The LONG-TERM GOAL of this project is to understand how the brain processes visual information about places-landscapes and interiors-and how that compares to brain processing of visual information about objects. We will measure object- and place-related responses of neurons in higher processing stages within two major brain pathways: (1) The ventral visual pathway is traditionally considered to be an object pathway, but our preliminary data show that it is also strongly engaged in representation of landscapes and interiors, with a dorsolateral-ventromedial gradient from object-related processing to place-related processing. (2) The recently recognized parieto-medial temporal pathway primarily processes place information and terminates in parahippocampal cortex. We will use mathematical analysis to understand how object and place information is encoded by neurons in these two pathways. We expect the results to have the following scientific impacts: 1. This first analysis of complex place shape is encoded at the level of individual neurons and groups of neurons will deepen understanding of brain mechanisms for perceiving, understanding, interacting with, and navigating through landscapes and interiors, complementing previous research at the brain imaging level. 2. Analytical comparison will elucidate how coding mechanisms are specialized for the very different structural characteristics and ecological roles of objects and places. 3. Analytical comparison of shape coding mechanisms between the ventral and parieto-medial pathways will increase understanding of how different visual functions are distributed across the brain. 4. Combined study of object and place coding will lead to future research on how these two elements combine in overall perception of visual scenes.
Our study will help explain the brain processing of large-scale shape information that underlies perception of scenes, landscapes, and building interiors. The results will help guide future rehabilitative and prosthetic strategies for patients with compromised visual navigation due to blindness or stroke-induced agnosias.
|Vaziri, Siavash; Carlson, Eric T; Wang, Zhihong et al. (2014) A channel for 3D environmental shape in anterior inferotemporal cortex. Neuron 84:55-62|