Identifying Distributed Object Representations in Human Extrastriate Visual Cortex

Sayres, Rory, Ress, David, Grill-spector, Kalanit

Neural Information Processing Systems 

The category of visual stimuli has been reliably decoded from patterns of neural activity in extrastriate visual cortex [1]. It has yet to be seen whether object identity can be inferred from this activity. We present fMRI data measuring responses in human extrastriate cortex to a set of 12 distinct object images. We use a simple winner-take-all classifier, using half the data from each recording session as a training set, to evaluate encoding of object identity across fMRI voxels. Since this approach is sensitive to the inclusion of noisy voxels, we describe two methods for identifying subsets of voxels in the data which optimally distinguish object identity. One method characterizes the reliability of each voxel within subsets of the data, while another estimates the mutual information of each voxel with the stimulus set. We find that both metrics can identify subsets of the data which reliably encode object identity, even when noisy measurements are artificially added to the data. The mutual information metric is less efficient at this task, likely due to constraints in fMRI data.