The goal of this research is to characterize the large-scale organization and emergence of object responses along the ventral stream. Cognitive systems dissociate along the animate/inanimate distinction in behavior, and neural systems reflect this distinction with a large-scale organization of animate and inanimate object responses across the cortical surface. Recently, the real-world size of objects was also shown to be a fundamental aspect of object representation, and also gives rise to a large-scale organization of big and small object information across the cortex.
The first aim will directly compare animacy and size organizations using functional neuroimaging, determining how the size and animacy organizations interact, and the relative strength of these two dimensions in neural organization. Next, the emergence of these large-scale topographies is hypothesized to arise from distinct, but non-mutually exclusive causes-network connectivity and visual experience.
The second aim [will explore the role that visual experience plays in shaping large-scale object organization] by measuring occipital-temporal cortex that has never received visual experience, in congenitally blind participants;and will compare long-range networks between groups using functional connectivity measures. The broader objectives of this project are to develop an expertise in advanced neuroimaging analyses, to understand the basic principles of brain organization, and to characterize the impact of normal and atypical experience on cortical development.

Public Health Relevance

Understanding the organization and emergence of object knowledge in the neural system is a fundamental endeavor of cognitive neuroscience. This work will advance our understanding of the ways in which experience in the lifetime can modify the structure of our high-level object representation. Characterizing how differences in experience, or the lack thereof, can change how the brain processes different kinds of information is relevant and important for all individuals with visual or other sensory impairments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F02B-M (20))
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Agarwal, Neeraj
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Harvard University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Long, Bria; Konkle, Talia; Cohen, Michael A et al. (2016) Mid-level perceptual features distinguish objects of different real-world sizes. J Exp Psychol Gen 145:95-109
Konkle, Talia; Caramazza, Alfonso (2016) The Large-Scale Organization of Object-Responsive Cortex Is Reflected in Resting-State Network Architecture. Cereb Cortex :
Cohen, Michael A; Nakayama, Ken; Konkle, Talia et al. (2015) Visual Awareness Is Limited by the Representational Architecture of the Visual System. J Cogn Neurosci 27:2240-52
Cohen, Michael A; Konkle, Talia; Rhee, Juliana Y et al. (2014) Processing multiple visual objects is limited by overlap in neural channels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:8955-60
Konkle, Talia; Caramazza, Alfonso (2013) Tripartite organization of the ventral stream by animacy and object size. J Neurosci 33:10235-42