Early and late effects of objecthood and spatial frequency on event-related potentials and gamma band activity

Matt Craddock, Jasna Martinovic, Matthias M Müller

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BACKGROUND: The visual system may process spatial frequency information in a low-to-high, coarse-to-fine sequence. In particular, low and high spatial frequency information may be processed via different pathways during object recognition, with LSF information projected rapidly to frontal areas and HSF processed later in visual ventral areas. In an electroencephalographic study, we examined the time course of information processing for images filtered to contain different ranges of spatial frequencies. Participants viewed either high spatial frequency (HSF), low spatial frequency (LSF), or unfiltered, broadband (BB) images of objects or non-object textures, classifying them as showing either man-made or natural objects, or non-objects. Event-related potentials (ERPs) and evoked and total gamma band activity (eGBA and tGBA) recorded using the electroencephalogram were compared for object and non-object images across the different spatial frequency ranges.

RESULTS: The visual P1 showed independent modulations by object and spatial frequency, while for the N1 these factors interacted. The P1 showed more positive amplitudes for objects than non-objects, and more positive amplitudes for BB than for HSF images, which in turn evoked more positive amplitudes than LSF images. The peak-to-peak N1 showed that the N1 was much reduced for BB non-objects relative to all other images, while HSF and LSF non-objects still elicited as negative an N1 as objects. In contrast, eGBA was influenced by spatial frequency and not objecthood, while tGBA showed a stronger response to objects than non-objects.

CONCLUSIONS: Different pathways are involved in the processing of low and high spatial frequencies during object recognition, as reflected in interactions between objecthood and spatial frequency in the visual N1 component. Total gamma band seems to be related to a late, probably high-level representational process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Early online date26 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

The project was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The funders had no role in the design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The authors also acknowledge support from both the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Universität Leipzig within the program of Open Access Publishing. The authors thank Renate Zahn and Karolin Meiß for assistance conducting the EEG recordings, and Valerie Goffaux for kindly providing a script for luminance and contrast matching.


  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • oscillations
  • Gamma band
  • object recognition


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