Differences in selectivity to natural images in early visual areas (V1–V3)

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High-level regions of the ventral visual pathway respond more to intact objects compared to scrambled objects. The aim of this study was to determine if this selectivity for objects emerges at an earlier stage of processing. Visual areas (V1–V3) were defined for each participant using retinotopic mapping. Participants then viewed intact and scrambled images from different object categories (bottle, chair, face, house, shoe) while neural responses were measured using fMRI. Our rationale for using scrambled images is that they contain the same low-level properties as the intact objects, but lack the higher-order combinations of features that are characteristic of natural images. Neural responses were higher for scrambled than intact images in all regions. However, the difference between intact and scrambled images was smaller in V3 compared to V1 and V2. Next, we measured the spatial patterns of response to intact and scrambled images from different object categories. We found higher within-category compared to between category correlations for both intact and scrambled images demonstrating distinct patterns of response. Spatial patterns of response were more distinct for intact compared to scrambled images in V3, but not in V1 or V2. These findings demonstrate the emergence of selectivity to natural images in V3.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2444
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number2444
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017

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© The Author(s) 2017


  • object vision

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