Visual information representation and rapid-scene categorization are simultaneous across cortex: An MEG study

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Abstract

Perceiving the visual world around us requires the brain to represent the features of stimuli and to categorize the stimulus based on these features. Incorrect categorization can result either from errors in visual representation or from errors in processes that lead to categorical choice. To understand the temporal relationship between the neural signatures of such systematic errors, we recorded whole-scalp magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from human subjects performing a rapid-scene categorization task. We built scene category decoders based on (1) spatiotemporally resolved neural activity, (2) spatial envelope (SpEn) image features, and (3) behavioral responses. Using confusion matrices, we tracked how well the pattern of errors from neural decoders could be explained by SpEn decoders and behavioral errors, over time and across cortical areas. Across the visual cortex and the medial temporal lobe, we found that both SpEn and behavioral errors explained unique variance in the errors of neural decoders. Critically, these effects were nearly simultaneous, and most prominent between 100 and 250 ms after stimulus onset. Thus, during rapid-scene categorization, neural processes that ultimately result in behavioral categorization are simultaneous and co-localized with neural processes underlying visual information representation.

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Ramkumar, P., Hansen, B. C., Pannasch, S., & Loschky, L. C. (2016). Visual information representation and rapid-scene categorization are simultaneous across cortex: An MEG study. NeuroImage, 134, 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.03.027

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