The temporal evolution of coarse location coding of objects: evidence for feedback

Ramakrishna Chakravarthi, Thomas A Carlson, Julie Chaffin, Jeremy Turret, Rufin VanRullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objects occupy space. How does the brain represent the spatial location of objects? Retinotopic early visual cortex has precise location information but can only segment simple objects. On the other hand, higher visual areas can resolve complex objects but only have coarse location information. Thus coarse location of complex objects might be represented by either (a) feedback from higher areas to early retinotopic areas or (b) coarse position encoding in higher areas. We tested these alternatives by presenting various kinds of first- (edge-defined) and second-order (texture) objects. We applied multivariate classifiers to the pattern of EEG amplitudes across the scalp at a range of time points to trace the temporal dynamics of coarse location representation. For edge-defined objects, peak classification performance was high and early and thus attributable to the retinotopic layout of early visual cortex. For texture objects, it was low and late. Crucially, despite these differences in peak performance and timing, training a classifier on one object and testing it on others revealed that the topography at peak performance was the same for both first- and second-order objects. That is, the same location information, encoded by early visual areas, was available for both edge-defined and texture objects at different time points. These results indicate that locations of complex objects such as textures, although not represented in the bottom-up sweep, are encoded later by neural patterns resembling the bottom-up ones. We conclude that feedback mechanisms play an important role in coarse location representation of complex objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2370-2384
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number10
Early online date29 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

This project was supported by a EURYI award grant to R. V. We thank an anonymous reviewer for suggesting the source localization analysis, which provided an independent test of the hypotheses.


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