A network view on brain regions involved in experts' object and pattern recognition: Implications for the neural mechanisms of skilled visual perception

Brain Cogn. 2019 Apr:131:74-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2018.09.007. Epub 2018 Oct 2.


Skilled visual object and pattern recognition form the basis of many everyday behaviours. The game of chess has often been used as a model case for studying how long-term experience aides in perceiving objects and their spatio-functional interrelations. Earlier research revealed two brain regions, posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG) and collateral sulcus (CoS), to be linked to chess experts' superior object and pattern recognition, respectively. Here we elucidated the brain networks these two expertise-related regions are embedded in, employing resting-state functional connectivity analysis and meta-analytic connectivity modelling with the BrainMap database. pMTG was preferentially connected with dorsal visual stream areas and a parieto-prefrontal network for action planning, while CoS was preferentially connected with posterior medial cortex and hippocampus, linked to scene perception, perspective-taking and navigation. Functional profiling using BrainMap meta-data revealed that pMTG was linked to semantic processing as well as inhibition and attention, while CoS was linked to face and shape perception as well as passive viewing. Our findings suggest that pMTG subserves skilled object recognition by mediating the link between object identity and object affordances, while CoS subserves skilled pattern recognition by linking the position of individual objects with typical spatio-functional layouts of their environment stored in memory.

Keywords: Chess expertise; Functional connectivity; Functional decoding; MACM; Resting-state fMRI; Skilled perception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / diagnostic imaging*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult