The evolution of meaning: spatio-temporal dynamics of visual object recognition

J Cogn Neurosci. 2011 Aug;23(8):1887-99. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21544. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Abstract

Research on the spatio-temporal dynamics of visual object recognition suggests a recurrent, interactive model whereby an initial feedforward sweep through the ventral stream to prefrontal cortex is followed by recurrent interactions. However, critical questions remain regarding the factors that mediate the degree of recurrent interactions necessary for meaningful object recognition. The novel prediction we test here is that recurrent interactivity is driven by increasing semantic integration demands as defined by the complexity of semantic information required by the task and driven by the stimuli. To test this prediction, we recorded magnetoencephalography data while participants named living and nonliving objects during two naming tasks. We found that the spatio-temporal dynamics of neural activity were modulated by the level of semantic integration required. Specifically, source reconstructed time courses and phase synchronization measures showed increased recurrent interactions as a function of semantic integration demands. These findings demonstrate that the cortical dynamics of object processing are modulated by the complexity of semantic information required from the visual input.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Names
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Semantics*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Young Adult