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Libi Kliger, Galit Yovel; Why do face- and body-selective areas reside in adjacent locations? A proposed mechanism for decluttering non-human stimuli. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):659. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.659.
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A well-established feature of primate’s high-level visual cortex is the functional organization of face-selective and body-selective areas that reside in adjacent locations. However, the functional significance of this organization is still unknown. It has been recently shown that the representation of multi-category stimuli in category-selective areas is biased towards the preferred category. This bias is formed by a normalization mechanism acting in an area with homogeneous category-selective neurons. This operation enables hard-wired decluttering of non-preferred stimuli that are presented simultaneously with the preferred stimulus. Here we hypothesized that, using the same mechanism, the adjacent location of different category-selective areas may bias the representation to their multiple preferred categories, decluttering other non-preferred stimuli. In particular, the neighboring location of face and body-selective areas would bias the representation of a multi-category scene towards the whole person, while filtering out non-person stimuli. To test this hypothesis, we measured the fMRI response to a scene composed of a person standing next to a chair in a room as well as to the isolated face, body, chair and room stimuli. To find the contributions of each of the isolated stimuli to the representation of the complex scene, we fitted a linear model predicting the response to the complex scene based on the responses to the isolated stimuli. We found that throughout the face and body-selective areas, the contribution of both the face and the body to the representation of the multi-category scene was significant, whereas the contribution of the chair and the room was close to zero, effectively decluttering non-person stimuli. We conclude that the neighboring face and body-selective areas may functionally act as a “person-selective” area, while still enabling the system to bias the representation as needed to either the face, the body or the whole person according to task demands.
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