Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
A subset of visually sensitive neurons in the parietal lobe apparently can encode the locations of stimuli, whereas visually sensitive neurons in the inferotemporal cortex (area IT) cannot. This finding is puzzling because both sorts of neurons have large receptive fields, and yet location can be encoded in one case, but not in the other. The experiments reported here investigated the hypothesis that a crucial difference between the IT and parietal neurons is the spatial distribution of their response profiles. In particular, IT neurons typically respond maximally when stimuli are presented at the fovea, whereas parietal neurons do not. We found that a parallel-distributed-processing network could map a point in an array to a coordinate representation more easily when a greater proportion of its input units had response peaks off the center of the input array. Furthermore, this result did not depend on potentially implausible assumptions about the regularity of the overlap in receptive fields or the homogeneity of the response profiles of different units. Finally, the internal representations formed within the network had receptive fields resembling those found in area 7a of the parietal lobe.