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Human cortical areas involved in perception of surface glossiness

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.05.001
  • Specular Reflection
  • Surface Property
  • Feature-Based Attention
  • Fmri
  • Material Perception
  • Ecology


Abstract Glossiness is the visual appearance of an object's surface as defined by its surface reflectance properties. Despite its ecological importance, little is known about the neural substrates underlying its perception. In this study, we performed the first human neuroimaging experiments that directly investigated where the processing of glossiness resides in the visual cortex. First, we investigated the cortical regions that were more activated by observing high glossiness compared with low glossiness, where the effects of simple luminance and luminance contrast were dissociated by controlling the illumination conditions (Experiment 1). As cortical regions that may be related to the processing of glossiness, V2, V3, hV4, VO-1, VO-2, collateral sulcus (CoS), LO-1, and V3A/B were identified, which also showed significant correlation with the perceived level of glossiness. This result is consistent with the recent monkey studies that identified selective neural response to glossiness in the ventral visual pathway, except for V3A/B in the dorsal visual pathway, whose involvement in the processing of glossiness could be specific to the human visual system. Second, we investigated the cortical regions that were modulated by selective attention to glossiness (Experiment 2). The visual areas that showed higher activation to attention to glossiness than that to either form or orientation were identified as right hV4, right VO-2, and right V3A/B, which were commonly identified in Experiment 1. The results indicate that these commonly identified visual areas in the human visual cortex may play important roles in glossiness perception.

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