Spatial properties of objects predict patterns of neural response in the ventral visual pathway

Neuroimage. 2016 Feb 1:126:173-83. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.043. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Neuroimaging studies have revealed topographically organised patterns of response to different objects in the ventral visual pathway. These patterns are thought to be based on the form of the object. However, it is not clear what dimensions of object form are important. Here, we determined the extent to which spatial properties (energy across the image) could explain patterns of response in these regions. We compared patterns of fMRI response to images from different object categories presented at different retinal sizes. Although distinct neural patterns were evident to different object categories, changing the size (and thus the spatial properties) of the images had a significant effect on these patterns. Next, we used a computational approach to determine whether more fine-grained differences in the spatial properties can explain the patterns of neural response to different objects. We found that the spatial properties of the image were able to predict patterns of neural response, even when categorical factors were removed from the analysis. We also found that the effect of spatial properties on the patterns of response varies across the ventral visual pathway. These results show how spatial properties can be an important organising principle in the topography of the ventral visual pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Size Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Young Adult