Category-specific visual responses of single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Sep;3(9):946-53. doi: 10.1038/78868.


The hippocampus, amygdala and entorhinal cortex receive convergent input from temporal neocortical regions specialized for processing complex visual stimuli and are important in the representation and recognition of visual images. Recording from 427 single neurons in the human hippocampus, entorhinal cortex and amygdala, we found a remarkable degree of category-specific firing of individual neurons on a trial-by-trial basis. Of the recorded neurons, 14% responded selectively to visual stimuli from different categories, including faces, natural scenes and houses, famous people and animals. Based on the firing rate of individual neurons, stimulus category could be predicted with a mean probability of error of 0.24. In the hippocampus, the proportion of neurons responding to spatial layouts was greater than to other categories. Our data provide direct support for the role of human medial temporal regions in the representation of different categories of visual stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / classification*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Observer Variation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*