Evidence for participation by object-selective visual cortex in scene category judgments.

Research paper by Drew D Linsley, Sean P SP MacEvoy

Indexed on: 26 Aug '14Published on: 26 Aug '14Published in: Journal of vision


Scene recognition is a core function of the visual system, drawing both on scenes' intrinsic global features, prominently their spatial properties, and on the identities of the objects scenes contain. Neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies have associated spatial property-based scene categorization with parahippocampal cortex, while processing of scene-relevant object information is associated with the lateral occipital complex (LOC), wherein activity patterns distinguish between categories of standalone objects and those embedded in scenes. However, despite the importance of objects to scene categorization and the role of LOC in processing them, damage or disruption to LOC that hampers object recognition has been shown to improve scene categorization. To address this paradox, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to directly assess the contributions of LOC and the parahippocampal place area (PPA) to category judgments of indoor scenes that were devoid of objective identity signals. Observers were alternately cued to base judgments on scenes' objects or spatial properties. In both LOC and PPA, multivoxel activity patterns better decoded judgments based on their typically associated features: LOC more accurately decoded object-based judgments, while PPA more accurately decoded spatial property-based judgments. The cue contingency of LOC decoding accuracy indicates that it was not an outcome of feedback from judgments and is instead consistent with dependency of judgments on the output of object processing pathways in which LOC participates.