In humans, there is a repeated category-selective organization across the lateral and ventral surfaces of the occipitotemporal cortex. This apparent redundancy is often explained as a feedforward hierarchy, with processing within lateral areas preceding the processing within ventral areas. Here, we tested the alternative hypothesis that this structure better reflects distinct high-level representations of the upper (ventral surface) and lower (lateral surface) contralateral quadrants of the visual field, consistent with anatomical projections from early visual areas to these surfaces in monkey. Using complex natural scenes, we provide converging evidence from three independent functional imaging and behavioral studies. First, population receptive field mapping revealed strong biases for the contralateral upper and lower quadrant within the ventral and lateral scene-selective regions, respectively. Second, these same biases were observed in the position information available both in the magnitude and multivoxel response across these areas. Third, behavioral judgments of a scene property strongly represented within the ventral scene-selective area (open/closed), but not another equally salient property (manmade/natural), were more accurate in the upper than the lower field. Such differential representation of visual space poses a substantial challenge to the idea of a strictly hierarchical organization between lateral and ventral scene-selective regions. Moreover, such retinotopic biases seem to extend beyond these regions throughout both surfaces. Thus, the large-scale organization of high-level extrastriate cortex likely reflects the need for both specialized representations of particular categories and constraints from the structure of early vision.
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- School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences - Lecturer in Visual Cognition/Perception
- Edinburgh Neuroscience
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