September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Neural reconstructions of task-relevant and irrelevant features of attended objects
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jiageng Chen
    Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University
  • Paul Scotti
    Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University
  • Emma Wu Dowd
    University of Texas at Austin
  • Julie D Golomb
    Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  NIH R01-EY025648 (JG), NSF 1848939 (JG)
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 1931. doi:
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      Jiageng Chen, Paul Scotti, Emma Wu Dowd, Julie D Golomb; Neural reconstructions of task-relevant and irrelevant features of attended objects. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):1931.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Visual attention plays an essential role in selecting task-relevant and ignoring task-irrelevant information, for both object features and their locations. In the real world, multiple objects with multiple features are often simultaneously present in a scene. When spatial attention selects an object, how are the task-relevant and task-irrelevant features represented in the brain? Previous literature has shown conflicting results on whether and how irrelevant features are represented in visual cortex. In an fMRI task, we used a modified inverted encoding model (IEM, e.g., Sprague & Serences, 2015) to test whether we can reconstruct the task-relevant and task-irrelevant features of spatially attended objects in a multi-feature (color + orientation), multi-item display. Subjects were briefly shown an array of three colored, oriented gratings. Subjects were instructed as to which feature (color or orientation) was relevant before each block, and on each trial were asked to report the task-relevant feature of the object that appeared at a spatially pre-cued location, using a continuous color or orientation wheel. By applying a standard IEM, we achieved reliable feature reconstructions for the task-relevant features of the attended object from visual ROIs (V1 and V4v). Modifications to the IEM procedure produced reconstructions of variable quality for the task-irrelevant features in visual ROIs. Preliminary searchlight analyses also showed that task-irrelevant features of attended objects could be reconstructed from activity in some intraparietal areas. These results suggest that both relevant and irrelevant features may be represented in visual and parietal cortex but in different forms. Our method provides potential tools to noninvasively measure unattended feature representations and probe the extent to which spatial attention acts as a “glue” to bind task-relevant and task-irrelevant features.


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