Neuroimaging research has identified category-specific neural response patterns to a limited set of object categories. For example, faces, bodies, and scenes evoke activity patterns in visual cortex that are uniquely traceable in space and time. It is currently debated whether these apparently categorical responses truly reflect selectivity for categories or instead reflect selectivity for category-associated shape properties. In the present study, we used a cross-classification approach on functional MRI (fMRI) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data to reveal both category-independent shape responses and shape-independent category responses. Participants viewed human body parts (hands and torsos) and pieces of clothing that were closely shape-matched to the body parts (gloves and shirts). Category-independent shape responses were revealed by training multivariate classifiers on discriminating shape within one category (e.g., hands versus torsos) and testing these classifiers on discriminating shape within the other category (e.g., gloves versus shirts). This analysis revealed significant decoding in large clusters in visual cortex (fMRI) starting from 90 ms after stimulus onset (MEG). Shape-independent category responses were revealed by training classifiers on discriminating object category (bodies and clothes) within one shape (e.g., hands versus gloves) and testing these classifiers on discriminating category within the other shape (e.g., torsos versus shirts). This analysis revealed significant decoding in bilateral occipitotemporal cortex (fMRI) and from 130 to 200 ms after stimulus onset (MEG). Together, these findings provide evidence for concurrent shape and category selectivity in high-level visual cortex, including category-level responses that are not fully explicable by two-dimensional shape properties.
- category selectivity
- visual cortex organization
- body representations
↵* D. Kaiser and D. C. Azzalini contributed equally to this study.
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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