Multivariate pattern analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data is widely used, yet the spatial scales and origin of neurovascular signals underlying such analyses remain unclear. We compared decoding performance for stimulus orientation and eye of origin from fMRI measurements in human visual cortex with predictions based on the columnar organization of each feature and estimated the spatial scales of patterns driving decoding. Both orientation and eye of origin could be decoded significantly above chance in early visual areas (V1–V3). Contrary to predictions based on a columnar origin of response biases, decoding performance for eye of origin in V2 and V3 was not significantly lower than that in V1, nor did decoding performance for orientation and eye of origin differ significantly. Instead, response biases for both features showed large-scale organization, evident as a radial bias for orientation, and a nasotemporal bias for eye preference. To determine whether these patterns could drive classification, we quantified the effect on classification performance of binning voxels according to visual field position. Consistent with large-scale biases driving classification, binning by polar angle yielded significantly better decoding performance for orientation than random binning in V1–V3. Similarly, binning by hemifield significantly improved decoding performance for eye of origin. Patterns of orientation and eye preference bias in V2 and V3 showed a substantial degree of spatial correlation with the corresponding patterns in V1, suggesting that response biases in these areas originate in V1. Together, these findings indicate that multivariate classification results need not reflect the underlying columnar organization of neuronal response selectivities in early visual areas.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Large-scale response biases can account for decoding of orientation and eye of origin in human early visual areas V1–V3. For eye of origin this pattern is a nasotemporal bias; for orientation it is a radial bias. Differences in decoding performance across areas and stimulus features are not well predicted by differences in columnar-scale organization of each feature. Large-scale biases in extrastriate areas are spatially correlated with those in V1, suggesting biases originate in primary visual cortex.
- multivariate pattern classification analysis
- functional magnetic resonance imaging
- ocular dominance columns
- orientation columns
- human visual cortex
- primary visual cortex
- extrastriate visual cortex
- Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society
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