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8 1/2 x 11, illustrated
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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

May 2015, Vol. 27, No. 5, Pages 1001-1016
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00762)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Tolerance of Macaque Middle STS Body Patch Neurons to Shape-preserving Stimulus Transformations
Article PDF (1.12 MB)

Functional imaging studies in human and nonhuman primates have demonstrated regions in the brain that show category selectivity for faces or (headless) bodies. Recent fMRI-guided single unit studies of the macaque face category-selective regions have increased our understanding of the response properties of single neurons in these face patches. However, much less is known about the response properties of neurons in the fMRI-defined body category-selective regions (“body patches”). Recently, we reported that the majority of single neurons in one fMRI-defined body patch, the mid-STS body patch, responded more strongly to bodies compared with other objects. Here we assessed the tolerance of these neurons' responses and stimulus preference for shape-preserving image transformations. After mapping the receptive field of the single neurons, we found that their stimulus preference showed a high degree of tolerance for changes in the position and size of the stimulus. However, their response strongly depended on the in-plane orientation of a body. The selectivity of most neurons was, to a large degree, preserved when silhouettes were presented instead of the original textured and shaded images, suggesting that mainly shape-based features are driving these neurons. In a human psychophysical study, we showed that the information present in silhouettes is largely sufficient for body versus nonbody categorization. These data suggest that mid-STS body patch neurons respond predominantly to oriented shape features that are prevalent in images of bodies. Their responses can inform position- and retinal size-invariant body categorization and discrimination based on shape.