The goal of the proposed research is to study the normal development of category selective domains in inferotemporal cortex in infant macaques. In adult humans and monkeys, discrete regions of the temporal lobe are specialized for processing particular object categories, such as faces, text, bodies, or places. It is unknown whether this specialization is innate or arises as a consequence of extensive early experience, and it is not known what the functional significance is of having such specialized domains. To find out whether these characteristic domains are innate or develop over time, infant monkeys will be scanned, starting at birth, then repeatedly during development, using functional MRI. Our laboratory has developed techniques for scanning alert infant monkeys that are entirely non-invasive, and not harmful to the monkeys. It will be of fundamental importance to know to what degree something as important as face recognition is innate and what aspects of the circuitry require experience for their development. Furthermore by defining the normal developmental stages of the functional segregation of category-specific domains in inferotemporal cortex, we will see whether the acquisition of particular object recognition skills correlates with particular anatomical developmental stages, possibly illuminating the functional consequences of having specialized domains. In addition, we will examine the relationship between category-selectivity and retinotopy. Our working hypothesis is that a retinotopic organization in IT precedes category-selectivity and biases the processing of particular objects (e.g. faces in foveal representations of IT and places in peripheral representations of IT). We propose that this initial retinotopic proto-organization eventually gives way to a spatially invariant, non-retinotopic category- selective organization.
In humans and in monkeys inferotemporal cortex, the object recognition part of the visual pathway, is divided up into domains specialized for processing specific object categories, such as faces, text, places, and body parts. It is not known whether this parcellation is innate or emerges as a consequence of extensive early experience with these objects. To find out we propose to do fMRI on newborn and normally developing macaques.
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