Viewer-centred and object-centred coding of heads in the macaque temporal cortex

Exp Brain Res. 1991;86(1):159-73. doi: 10.1007/BF00231050.


An investigation was made into the sensitivity of cells in the macaque superior temporal sulcus (STS) to the sight of different perspective views of the head. This allowed assessment of (a) whether coding was 'viewer-centred' (view specific) or 'object-centred' (view invariant) and (b) whether viewer-centred cells were preferentially tuned to 'characteristic' views of the head. The majority of cells (110) were found to be viewer-centred and exhibited unimodal tuning to one view. 5 cells displayed object-centred coding responding equally to all views of the head. A further 5 cells showed 'mixed' properties, responding to all views of the head but also discriminating between views. 6 out of 56 viewer and object-centred cells exhibited selectivity for face identity or species. Tuning to view varied in sharpness. For most (54/73) cells the angle of perspective rotation reducing response to half maximal was 45-70 degrees but for 19/73 it was greater than 90 degrees. More cells were optimally tuned to characteristic views of the head (the full face or profile) than to other views. Some cells were, however, found tuned to intermediate views throughout the full 360 degree range. This coding of many distinct head views may have a role in the analysis of social signals based on the interpretation of the direction of other individuals' attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*