fMRI-adaptation and Category Selectivity in Human Ventral Temporal Cortex: Regional Differences Across Time Scales

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Jun;103(6):3349-65. doi: 10.1152/jn.01108.2009. Epub 2010 Apr 7.


Repeating object images produces stimulus-specific repetition suppression referred to as functional magnetic resonance imaging-adaptation (fMRI-A) in ventral temporal cortex (VTC). However, the effects of stimulus repetition on functional selectivity are largely unknown. We investigated the effects of short-lagged (SL, immediate) and long-lagged (LL, many intervening stimuli) repetitions on category selectivity in VTC using high-resolution fMRI. We asked whether repetition produces scaling or sharpening of fMRI responses both within category-selective regions as well as in the distributed response pattern across VTC. Results illustrate that repetition effects across time scales vary quantitatively along an anterior-posterior axis and qualitatively along a lateral-medial axis. In lateral VTC, both SL and LL repetitions produce proportional fMRI-A with no change in either selectivity or distributed responses as predicted by a scaling model. Further, there is larger fMRI-A in anterior subregions irrespective of category selectivity. Medial VTC exhibits similar scaling effects during SL repetitions. However, for LL repetitions, both the selectivity and distributed pattern of responses vary with category in medial VTC as predicted by a sharpening model. Specifically, there is larger fMRI-A for nonpreferred categories compared with the preferred category, and category selectivity does not predict fMRI-A across the pattern of distributed response. Finally, simulations indicate that different neural mechanisms likely underlie fMRI-A in medial compared to lateral VTC. These results have important implications for future fMRI-A experiments because they suggest that fMRI-A does not reflect a universal neural mechanism and that results of fMRI-A experiments will likely be paradigm independent in lateral VTC but paradigm dependent in medial VTC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Extremities
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Temporal Lobe / blood supply*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Pathways / blood supply
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen