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Dynamics of visual feature analysis and ob object-level processing in face versus letter-string perception

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Piers Cornelissen


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Neurones in the human inferior occipitotemporal cortex respond to specific categories of images, such as numbers, letters and faces, within 150-200 ms. Here we identify the locus in time when stimulus-specific analysis emerges by comparing the dynamics of face and letter-string perception in the same 10 individuals. An ideal paradigm was provided by our previous study on letter-strings, in which noise-masking of stimuli revealed putative visual feature processing at 100 ms around the occipital midline followed by letter-string-specific activation at 150 ms in the left inferior occipitotemporal cortex. In the present study, noise-masking of cartoon-like faces revealed that the response at 100 ms increased linearly with the visual complexity of the images, a result that was similar for faces; and letter-strings. By 150 ms, faces and letter-strings had entered their own stimulus-specific processing routes in the inferior occipitotemporal cortex, with identical timing and large spatial overlap. However, letter-string analysis lateralized to the left hemisphere, whereas face processing occurred more bilaterally or with right-hemisphere preponderance. The inferior occipitotemporal activations at similar to150 ms, which take place after the visual feature analysis at similar to100 ms, are likely to represent a general object-level analysis stage that acts as a rapid gateway to higher cognitive processing;.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cornelissen PL; Tarkiainen A; Salmelin R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Brain

Year: 2002

Volume: 125

Issue: 5

Pages: 1125-1136

ISSN (print): 0006-8950

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2156

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/brain/awf112


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