Nonvisual and Visual Object Shape Representations in Occipitotemporal Cortex: Evidence from Congenitally Blind and Sighted Adults
Peelen, M. V.
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CitationPeelen, M. V., C. He, Z. Han, A. Caramazza, and Y. Bi. 2013. “Nonvisual and Visual Object Shape Representations in Occipitotemporal Cortex: Evidence from Congenitally Blind and Sighted Adults.” Journal of Neuroscience 34 (1): 163–70. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.1114-13.2014.
AbstractKnowledge of object shape is primarily acquired through the visual modality but can also be acquired through other sensory modalities. In the present study, we investigated the representation of object shape in humans without visual experience. Congenitally blind and sighted participants rated the shape similarity of pairs of 33 familiar objects, referred to by their names. The resulting shape similarity matrices were highly similar for the two groups, indicating that knowledge of the objects' shapes was largely independent of visual experience. Using fMRI, wetested for brain regions that represented object shape knowledge in blind and sighted participants. Multivoxel activity patterns were established for each of the 33 aurally presented object names. Sighted participants additionally viewed pictures of these objects. Using representational similarity analysis, neural similarity matrices were related to the behavioral shape similarity matrices. Results showed that activity patterns in occipitotemporal cortex (OTC) regions, including inferior temporal (IT) cortex and functionally defined object-selective cortex (OSC), reflected the behavioral shape similarity ratings in both blind and sighted groups, also when controlling for the objects' tactile and semantic similarity. Furthermore, neural similarity matrices of IT and OSC showed similarities across blind and sighted groups (within the auditory modality) and across modality (within the sighted group), but not across both modality and group (blind auditory-sighted visual). Together, these findings provide evidence that OTC not only represents objects visually (requiring visual experience) but also represents objects nonvisually, reflecting knowledge of object shape independently of the modality through which this knowledge was acquired.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41384846
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