We effortlessly recognize objects across changes in viewpoint, but we know relatively little about the features that underlie viewpoint invariance in the brain. Here we set out to characterize how viewpoint invariance in monkey inferior temporal (IT) neurons is influenced by two image manipulations - silhouetting and inversion. Reducing an object into its silhouette removes internal detail, so this would reveal how much viewpoint invariance depends on the external contours. Inverting an object retains but rearranges features, so this would reveal how much viewpoint invariance depends on the arrangement and orientation of features. Our main findings are: (1) View invariance is weakened by silhouetting but not by inversion; (2) View invariance was stronger in neurons that generalized across silhouetting and inversion; (3) Neuronal responses to natural objects matched early with that of silhouettes and only later to that of inverted objects, indicative of coarse-to-fine processing and (4) The impact of silhouetting and inversion depended on object structure. Taken together, our results elucidate the underlying features and dynamics of view invariant object representations in the brain.
- object recognition
- shape coding
- Copyright © 2017, Journal of Neurophysiology