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Temporally distinct neural coding of perceptual similarity and prototype bias

Kahn, David Alexander and Harris, Alison M. and Wolk, David A. and Aguirre, Geoffrey Karl (2010) Temporally distinct neural coding of perceptual similarity and prototype bias. Journal of Vision, 10 (10). Art. No. 12. ISSN 1534-7362.

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Psychological models suggest that perceptual similarity can be divided into geometric effects, such as metric distance in stimulus space, and non-geometric effects, such as stimulus-specific biases. We investigated the neural and temporal separability of these effects in a carry-over, event-related potential (ERP) study of facial similarity. By testing this dual effects model against a temporal framework of visual evoked components, we demonstrate that the behavioral distinction between geometric and non-geometric similarity effects is consistent with dissociable neural responses across the time course of face perception. We find an ERP component between the “face-selective” N170 and N250 responses (the “P200”) that is modulated by transitions of face appearance, consistent with neural adaptation to the geometric similarity of face transitions. In contrast, the N170 and N250 reflect non-geometric stimulus bias, with different degrees of neural adaptation dependent upon the direction of transition within the stimulus space. These results suggest that the neural coding of perceptual similarity, in terms of both geometric and non-geometric representations, occurs rapidly and from relatively early in the perceptual processing stream.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Harris, Alison M.0000-0002-0559-2821
Additional Information:© 2010 ARVO. Received March 12, 2010; published August 16, 2010. This work was supported by K08 MH 7 2926-01 and a Burroughs-Wellcome Career Development Award. Development of the MacBrain Face Stimulus Set was overseen by Nim Tottenham and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development. Please contact Nim Tottenham at tott0006@tc.umn for more information concerning the stimulus set.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Burroughs-Wellcome FundUNSPECIFIED
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:event-related potentials; perceptual similarity; neural adaptation; prototype effect; N170
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100921-092036991
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Official Citation:Kahn, D. A., Harris, A. M., Wolk, D. A., & Aguirre, G. K. (2010). Temporally distinct neural coding of perceptual similarity and prototype bias. Journal of Vision, 10(10):12, 1–12,, doi:10.1167/10.10.12.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20065
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Sep 2010 19:52
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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