Visual Grouping in Human Parietal Cortex

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Visual Grouping in Human Parietal Cortex

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Title: Visual Grouping in Human Parietal Cortex
Author: Chun, Marvin M.; Xu, Yaoda

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Citation: Xu, Yaoda and Marvin M. Chun. 2007. Visual grouping in human parietal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104(47): 18766-18771.
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Abstract: To efficiently extract visual information from complex visual scenes to guide behavior and thought, visual input needs to be organized into discrete units that can be selectively attended and processed. One important such selection unit is visual objects. A crucial factor determining object-based selection is the grouping between visual elements. Although human lesion data have pointed to the importance of the parietal cortex in object-based representations, our understanding of these parietal mechanisms in normal human observers remains largely incomplete. Here we show that grouped shapes elicited lower functional MRI (fMRI) responses than ungrouped shapes in inferior intraparietal sulcus (IPS) even when grouping was task-irrelevant. This relative ease of representing grouped shapes allowed more shape information to be passed onto later stages of visual processing, such as information storage in superior IPS, and may explain why grouped visual elements are easier to perceive than ungrouped ones after parietal brain lesions. These results are discussed within a neural object file framework, which argues for distinctive neural mechanisms supporting object individuation and identification in visual perception.
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