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Leila Reddy, Nancy Kanwisher; Category selectivity in the ventral visual pathway confers robustness to clutter and diverted attention. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.130.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The pattern of fMRI responses across the ventral visual pathway to objects presented in isolation carries information about the category of object viewed. However, natural images usually contain multiple objects (“clutter”), a notorious challenge for distributed representations. Here we used pattern analysis methods to ask whether category information in the fMRI response is preserved under conditions of clutter and diverted attention, and whether the answer to these questions depends on the category of object viewed. We found that information in the spatial pattern of fMRI response about standard object categories (shoes and cars) is severely disrupted by clutter, and eliminated when attention is diverted. However, information about preferred categories in category-specific cortical regions (faces in the FFA and houses in the PPA) is undiminished by clutter, and partly preserved under diverted attention. These findings suggest that one function of category-selective cortical regions may be to preserve category information under conditions of clutter and diverted attention.
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