Color Sensitivity of Cells Responsive to Complex Stimuli in the Temporal Cortex

R Edwards, D Xiao, C Keysers, Peter Foldiak, David Ian Perrett

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63 Citations (Scopus)


The inferotemporal (IT) cortex of the monkey lies at the head of the ventral visual pathway and is known to mediate object recognition and discrimination. It is often assumed that color plays a minor role in the recognition of objects and faces because discrimination remains highly accurate with black-and-white images. Furthermore it has been suggested that for rapid presentation and reaction tasks, object classification may be based on a first wave of feedforward visual information, which is coarse and achromatic. The fine detail and color information follows later, allowing similar stimuli to be discriminated. To allow these theories to be tested, this study investigates whether the presence of color affects the response of IT neurons to complex stimuli, such as faces, and whether color information is delayed with respect to information about stimulus form in these cells. Color, achromatic, and false-color versions of effective stimuli were presented using a rapid serial visual presentation paradigm, and responses recorded from single cells in IT of the adult monkey. Achromatic images were found to evoke significantly reduced responses compared with color images in the majority of neurons (70%) tested. Differential activity for achromatic and colored stimuli was evident from response onset with no evidence to support the hypothesis that information about object color is delayed with respect to object form. A negative correlation ( P < 0.01) was found between cell latency and color sensitivity, with the most color-sensitive cells tending to respond earliest. The results of this study suggest a strong role for color in familiar object recognition and provide no evidence to support the idea of a first wave of form processing in the ventral stream based on purely achromatic information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1256
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003


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