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Inferior Occipital Gyrus Is Organized along Common Gradients of Spatial and Face-Part Selectivity

Authors
  • de Haas, Benjamin
  • Sereno, Martin I.
  • Schwarzkopf, D. Samuel
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Neuroscience
Publisher
Society for Neuroscience
Publication Date
Jun 23, 2021
Volume
41
Issue
25
Pages
5511–5521
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2415-20.2021
PMID: 34016715
PMCID: PMC8221599
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Research Articles
  • Behavioral/Cognitive
License
Unknown

Abstract

The ventral visual stream of the human brain is subdivided into patches with categorical stimulus preferences, like faces or scenes. However, the functional organization within these areas is less clear. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and vertex-wise tuning models to independently probe spatial and face-part preferences in the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG) of healthy adult males and females. The majority of responses were well explained by Gaussian population tuning curves for both retinotopic location and the preferred relative position within a face. Parameter maps revealed a common gradient of spatial and face-part selectivity, with the width of tuning curves drastically increasing from posterior to anterior IOG. Tuning peaks clustered more idiosyncratically but were also correlated across maps of visual and face space. Preferences for the upper visual field went along with significantly increased coverage of the upper half of the face, matching recently discovered biases in human perception. Our findings reveal a broad range of neural face-part selectivity in IOG, ranging from narrow to “holistic.” IOG is functionally organized along this gradient, which in turn is correlated with retinotopy. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Brain imaging has revealed a lot about the large-scale organization of the human brain and visual system. For example, occipital cortex contains map-like representations of the visual field, while neurons in ventral areas cluster into patches with categorical preferences, like faces or scenes. Much less is known about the functional organization within these areas. Here, we focused on a well established face-preferring area—the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG). A novel neuroimaging paradigm allowed us to map the retinotopic and face-part tuning of many recording sites in IOG independently. We found a steep posterior–anterior gradient of decreasing face-part selectivity, which correlated with retinotopy. This suggests the functional role of ventral areas is not uniform and may follow retinotopic “protomaps.”

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