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The primate visual system is considered to be segregated into ventral and dorsal streams specialized for processing object identity and location, respectively. We reexamined the dorsal/ventral model using a stimulus-driven approach to object identity and location processing. While looking at repeated presentations of a standard object at a standard location, subjects monitored for any infrequent "oddball" changes in object identity, location, or identity and location (conjunction). While the identity and location oddballs preferentially activated ventral and dorsal brain regions respectively, each oddball type activated both pathways. Furthermore, all oddball types recruited the lateral temporal cortex and the temporo-parietal junction. These findings suggest that a strict dorsal/ventral dual-stream model does not fully account for the perception of novel objects in space.
BACKGROUND - Recognition of individual faces is an integral part of both interpersonal interactions and successful functioning within a social group. Therefore, it is of considerable interest that individuals with autism and related conditions have selective deficits in face recognition (sparing nonface object recognition).
METHOD - We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study face and subordinate-level object perception in 14 high-functioning individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome (the autism group), in comparison with 2 groups of matched normal controls (normal control group ] [NC1] and normal control group 2 [NC2]) (n = 14 for each). Regions of interest (ROIs) were defined in NC1 and then applied in comparisons between NC2 and the autism group. Regions of interest were also defined in NC2 and then applied to comparisons between NC1 and the autism group as a replication study.
RESULTS - In the first set of comparisons, we found significant task x group interactions for the size of activation in the right fusiform gyrus (FG) and right inferior temporal gyri (ITG). Post hoc analyses showed that during face (but not object) discrimination, the autism group had significantly greater activation than controls in the right ITG and less activation of the right FG. The replication study showed again that the autism group used the ITG significantly more for processing faces than the control groups, but for these analyses, the effect was now on the left side. Greater ITG activation was the pattern found in both control groups during object processing.
CONCLUSIONS - Individuals with autism spectrum disorders demonstrate a pattern of brain activity during face discrimination that is consistent with feature-based strategies that are more typical of nonface object perception.
BACKGROUND - Verbal learning and memory deficits are among the most severe cognitive deficits observed in schizophrenia. We have demonstrated that such deficits do not extend to working memory for tones in a substantial number of patients even when verbal working memory is impaired. In this study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the neural basis of this dissociation of auditory verbal and nonverbal working memory in individuals with schizophrenia.
METHODS - While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, 12 schizophrenic patients and 12 matched control subjects performed auditory Word Serial Position Task and Tone Serial Position Task.
RESULTS - Both tasks produced activation in frontal cortex and temporal and parietal lobes of the cerebrum in both groups. While robust activation was observed in the left inferior frontal gyrus (areas 6, 44, and 45) in the control group during the Word Serial Position Task, activation in the patient group was much reduced in these areas and failed to show the same task-specific activation as in controls. Reduced activation in patients was not confined to the inferior frontal gyrus, but also extended to a medial area during the Tone Serial Position Task and to premotor and anterior temporal lobe areas during both tasks.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings support the hypothesis that abnormalities in cortical hemodynamic response in the inferior frontal gyrus underlie the verbal working memory deficit in schizophrenia. The relationship of verbal working memory deficits to other cognitive functions suggests that abnormal functioning in the speech-related areas may reflect a critical substrate of a broad range of cognitive dysfunctions associated with schizophrenia.
Twelve participants were trained to be experts at identifying a set of 'Greebles', novel objects that, like faces, all share a common spatial configuration. Tests comparing expert with novice performance revealed: (1) a surprising mix of generalizability and specificity in expert object recognition processes; and (2) that expertise is a multi-faceted phenomenon, neither adequately described by a single term nor adequately assessed by a single task. Greeble recognition by a simple neural-network model is also evaluated, and the model is found to account surprisingly well for both generalization and individuation using a single set of processes and representations.
Recent research has clarified and revealed characteristics of perceptual and motor decision processes in the brain. A democracy of sensory neurons discriminate the properties of a stimulus, while competition contrasts the attributes of stimuli across the visual field to locate conspicuous stimuli. Salience and significance are weighed to select an object on which to focus attention and action. Experimentally combining neural and mental chronometry has determined the contribution of perceptual and motor processes to the duration and variability of behavioral reaction time. Whereas perceptual processing occupies a relatively constant amount of time for a given stimulus condition, the processes of mapping particular stimuli onto the appropriate behavior and preparing the motor response provide flexibility but introduce delay and variability in reaction time.
Sensitivity to configural changes in face processing has been cited as evidence for face-exclusive mechanisms. Alternatively, general mechanisms could be fine-tuned by experience with homogeneous stimuli. We tested sensitivity to configural transformations for novices and experts with nonface stimuli ("Greebles"). Parts of transformed Greebles were identified via forced-choice recognition. Regardless of expertise level, the recognition of parts in the Studied configuration was better than in isolation, suggesting an object advantage. For experts, recognizing Greeble parts in a Transformed configuration was slower than in the Studied configuration, but only at upright. Thus, expertise with visually similar objects, not faces per se, may produce configural sensitivity.
1. The latency between the appearance of a popout search display and the eye movement to the oddball target of the display varies from trial to trial in both humans and monkeys. The source of the delay and variability of reaction time is unknown but has been attributed to as yet poorly defined decision processes. 2. We recorded neural activity in the frontal eye field (FEF), an area regarded as playing a central role in producing purposeful eye movements, of monkeys (Macaca mulatta) performing a popout visual search task. Eighty-four neurons with visually evoked activity were analyzed. Twelve of these neurons had a phasic response associated with the presentation of the visual stimulus. The remaining neurons had more tonic responses that persisted through the saccade. Many of the neurons with more tonic responses resembled visuomovement cells in that they had activity that increased before a saccade into their response field. 3. The visual response latencies of FEF neurons were determined with the use of a Poisson spike train analysis. The mean visual latency was 67 ms (minimum = 35 ms, maximum = 138 ms). The visual response latencies to the target presented alone, to the target presented with distractors, or to the distractors did not differ significantly. 4. The initial visual activation of FEF neurons does not discriminate the target from the distractors of a popout visual search stimulus array, but the activity evolves to a state that discriminates whether the target of the search display is within the receptive field. We tested the hypothesis that the source of variability of saccade latency is the time taken by neurons involved in saccade programming to select the target for the gaze shift. 5. With the use of an analysis adapted from signal detection theory, we determined when the activity of single FEF neurons can reliably indicate whether the target or distractors are present within their response fields. The time of target discrimination partitions the reaction time into a perceptual stage in which target discrimination takes place, and a motor stage in which saccade programming and generation take place. The time of target discrimination occurred most often between 120 and 150 ms after stimulus presentation. 6. We analyzed the time course of target discrimination in the activity of single cells after separating trials into short, medium, and long saccade latency groups. Saccade latency was not correlated with the duration of the perceptual stage but was correlated with the duration of the motor stage. This result is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the time taken for target discrimination, as indexed by FEF neurons, accounts for the wide variability in the time of movement initiation. 7. We conclude that the variability observed in saccade latencies during a simple visual search task is largely due to postperceptual motor processing following target discrimination. Signatures of both perceptual and postperceptual processing are evident in FEF. Procrastination in the output stage may prevent stereotypical behavior that would be maladaptive in a changing environment.
The foveal increment threshold spectral sensitivity function for a 500 msec raised cosine stimulus without spatial edges exhibits a sharp drop or "notch" in sensitivity that coincides with the wavelength of a long-wavelength adapting field. An appropriate name for this phenomenon is the "Sloan notch", after Louise Sloan, who first observed a notch in a foveal threshold spectrum. We have examined suprathreshold discriminability on both sides of the Sloan notch produced by a 6700 td, 578 nm adapting field. In a temporal two-alternative forced-choice paradigm, a suprathreshold 650 nm low-frequency "standard" stimulus was paired with low-frequency "test" stimuli, of wavelength between 600 and 670 nm and varied intensity; the observer's task was to identify the interval containing the standard. Discriminability of the test and standard typically dropped to chance for some particular test intensity, producing "indiscriminability action spectra", up to 0.7 log units above threshold. Truncated spectra (between about 530 and 560 nm) were also obtained from observers on the middle wavelength side of the Sloan notch, for a 550 nm standard. The indiscriminability action spectra of each observer were identical, up to scaling, with the observer's threshold action spectrum. Analysis of the action spectra shows that the indiscriminable stimuli are rendered equivalent at the input to a neural pathway where L- and M-cone signals converge with opposite sign. We also investigated discriminability in the spectral region containing and immediately surrounding the Sloan notch. Suprathreshold stimuli in the spectral region near the notch produce percepts that are always discriminable from 650 and 550 nm standards (and from one another), and thus we conclude that in this spectral region, perception is mediated in part by a pathway distinct from that which signals the standards. The action spectrum of this latter pathway was estimated with a variant of the discrimination procedure, and found similar to V lambda over the spectral region 575-610 nm.