Dynamics of 3D view invariance in monkey inferotemporal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Apr 1;113(7):2180-94. doi: 10.1152/jn.00810.2014. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


Rotations in depth are challenging for object vision because features can appear, disappear, be stretched or compressed. Yet we easily recognize objects across views. Are the underlying representations view invariant or dependent? This question has been intensely debated in human vision, but the neuronal representations remain poorly understood. Here, we show that for naturalistic objects, neurons in the monkey inferotemporal (IT) cortex undergo a dynamic transition in time, whereby they are initially sensitive to viewpoint and later encode view-invariant object identity. This transition depended on two aspects of object structure: it was strongest when objects foreshortened strongly across views and were similar to each other. View invariance in IT neurons was present even when objects were reduced to silhouettes, suggesting that it can arise through similarity between external contours of objects across views. Our results elucidate the viewpoint debate by showing that view invariance arises dynamically in IT neurons out of a representation that is initially view dependent.

Keywords: inferior temporal cortex; object recognition; viewpoint invariance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional* / methods
  • Macaca radiata
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*