Inverted visual coding across category-selective visual areas

Poster Presentation: Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 2:45 – 6:45 pm, Banyan Breezeway
Session: Perceptual Organization: Neural mechanisms, models

Adam Steel1 (), Peter Angeli1, Edward Silson2, Caroline Robertson1; 1Dartmouth College, 2University of Edinburgh

Traditional models of brain function propose a shift from retinotopic to amodal, abstract coding as visual information progresses anteriorly from visual cortex towards memory structures. However, recent evidence challenges this conception, suggesting that memory-related brain areas implement a retinotopic code characterized by spatially-selective negative responses during population receptive field modeling (-pRFs), and this code structures interactions among category-selective brain areas involved in scene perception and memory (Steel*, Silson* et al., 2023, Nat. Neuro.). Here, we investigated whether -pRFs are present within or anterior to other visual-category preferring areas (beyond scene areas), or whether -pRFs uniquely appear in regions specialized for scene memory. We computed pRFs for all subjects in the Natural Scenes Dataset (Allen et al., 2022) and compared -/+ pRF concentrations in category-preferring regions in ventral temporal cortex for scenes (anterior & posterior PPA), faces (iOG-, pFus-, mFus-faces), bodies (FBA-1 & 2), and words (OWFA, VWFA-1 & 2). Importantly, for scenes, we replicated our previous observation: -pRFs were preferentially concentrated in anterior versus posterior PPA (p<0.005), and the lateral place memory area (individually localized using resting-state fMRI) compared to the scene perception area OPA (p<0.001). Next, we examined the prevalence of -pRFs in and anterior to other category-selective visual areas. Face- and body-selective areas exhibited no differences in -pRF concentration between posterior and anterior functional regions (all ps > 0.09). Interestingly, for word-selective areas, the concentration of -pRFs increased up the processing hierarchy from OWFA to VWFA-1 and 2 (ps < 0.05). Crucially, the visual field preferences of -/+ pRFs in word-preferring areas were well-matched, supporting the notion of functional linkage. We propose that the -pRFs associated with visual areas may serve visual functions that demand perceptual-mnemonic interaction across the visual field such as navigation and reading.

Acknowledgements: R01MH130529