Monday, October 20, 2008

Relationship between color discrimination and neural responses in the inferior temporal cortex of the monkey

Matsumora T, Koida K, Komatsu H.
J Neurophysiol. 2008 Oct 15.

Earlier studies suggest that the inferior temporal (IT) cortex of the monkey plays a key role in color discrimination. Here, we examined the quantitative relationship between color judgment in monkeys and the responses of color-selective neurons in the anterior part of the IT cortex (area TE) by comparing neuronal activity and behavior recorded simultaneously while the monkeys performed a color judgment task. We first compared the abilities of single neurons and monkeys to discriminate color. To calculate a neuron's ability to discriminate color, we computed a neurometric function using receiver-operating-characteristics analysis. We then compared the neural and behavioral thresholds for color discrimination and found that, in general, the neural threshold was higher than the behavioral threshold, though occasionally the reverse was true. Variation in the neural threshold across the color space corresponded well with that of the behavioral threshold. We then calculated the Choice Probability (CP), which is a measure of the correlation between the trial-to-trial fluctuations in neuronal responses and the monkeys' color judgment. On average, CPs were slightly but significantly larger than 0.5, indicating the activities of these TE neurons correlate positively with the monkeys' color judgment. This suggests that individual color-selective TE neurons only weakly contribute to color discrimination and that a large population of color-selective TE neurons contribute to the performance of color discrimination.

PMID: 18922950

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Stimulus similarity-contingent neural adaptation can be time and cortical area dependent.

Verhoef BE, Kayaert G, Franko E, Vangeneugden J, Vogels R.
J Neurosci. 2008 Oct 15;28(42):10631-40.

Repetition of a stimulus results in decreased responses in many cortical areas. This so-called adaptation or repetition suppression has been used in several human functional magnetic resonance imaging studies to deduce the stimulus selectivity of neuronal populations. We tested in macaque monkeys whether the degree of neural adaptation depends on the similarity between the adapter and test stimulus. To manipulate similarity, we varied stimulus size. We recorded the responses of single neurons to different-sized shapes in inferior temporal (IT) and prefrontal cortical (PFC) areas while the animals were engaged in a size or shape discrimination task. The degree of response adaptation in IT decreased with increasing size differences between the adapter and the test stimuli in both tasks, but the dependence of adaptation on the degree of similarity between the adapter and test stimuli was limited mainly to the early phase of the neural response in IT. PFC neurons showed only weak size-contingent repetition effects, despite strong size selectivity observed with the same stimuli. Thus, based on the repetition effects in PFC, one would have erroneously concluded that PFC shows weak or no size selectivity in such tasks. These findings are relevant for the interpretation of functional magnetic resonance adaptation data: they support the conjecture that the degree of adaptation scales with the similarity between adapter and test stimuli. However, they also show that the temporal evolution of adaptation during the course of the response, and differences in the way individual regions react to stimulus repetition, may complicate the inference of neuronal tuning from functional magnetic resonance adaptation.

PMID: 18923039

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