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The effects of lighting conditions on responses of cells selective for face views in the macaque temporal cortex

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JK Hietanen, David Ian Perrett, Michael William Oram, PJ Benson, WH Dittrich

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Neural mechanisms underlying recognition of objects must overcome the changes in an object's appearance caused by inconsistent viewing conditions, particularly those that occur with changes in lighting. In humans, lesions to the posterior visual association cortex can impair the ability to recognize objects and faces across different lighting conditions. Inferotemporal lesions in monkey have been shown to produce a similar difficulty in object matching tasks. Here we report on the extent to which cell responses selective for the face and other views of the head in monkey temporal cortex tolerate changes in lighting. For each cell studied the (preferred) head view eliciting maximal response was first established under normal lighting. Cells were then tested with the preferred head view lit from different directions (i.e. front, above, below or from the side). Responses of some cells failed to show complete generalization across all lighting conditions but together as a "population" they responded equally strongly under all four lighting conditions. Further tests on sub-groups of cells revealed that stimulus selectivity was maintained despite unusual lighting. The cells discriminated between head and control stimuli and between different views of the head independent of the lighting direction. The results indicate that constancy of recognition across different lighting conditions is apparent in the responses of single cells in the temporal cortex. Lighting constancy appears to be established by matching the retinal image to view-specific descriptions of objects (i.e. neurons which compute object structure from a limited range of perspective views).



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-71
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1992

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