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“School of Cognitive Sciences”

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Paper   IPM / Cognitive Sciences / 8340
School of Cognitive Sciences
  Title:   Microstimulation of inferotemporal cortex influences face categorization
  Author(s): 
1.  S.R. Afraz
2.  R. Kiani
3.  H. Esteky
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Nature
  No.:  7103
  Vol.:  442
  Year:  2006
  Pages:   692-695
  Supported by:  IPM
  Abstract:
The inferior temporal cortex (IT) of primates is thought to be the final visual area in the ventral stream of cortical areas responsible for object recognition1,2. Consistent with this hypothesis, single IT neurons respond selectively to highly complex visual stimuli such as faces3,4,5,6. However, a direct causal link between the activity of face selective neurons and face perception has never been demonstrated. In the present study we artificially activated small clusters of IT neurons by means of electrical microstimulation while monkeys performed a categorization task, judging whether noisy visual images belonged to ?face? or ?non-face? categories. Microstimulation of face-selective sites, but not other sites, strongly biased the monkeys? decisions toward the face category. The magnitude of the effect depended upon the degree of face selectivity of the stimulation site, the size of the stimulated cluster of face-selective neurons, and the exact timing of microstimulation. Our results establish for the first time a causal relationship between the activity of face-selective neurons and face perception.

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