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Published November 8, 2007 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Specialized Color Modules in Macaque Extrastriate Cortex


Imaging studies are consistent with the existence of brain regions specialized for color, but electrophysiological studies have produced conflicting results. Here we address the neural basis for color, using targeted single-unit recording in alert macaque monkeys, guided by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the same subjects. Distributed within posterior inferior temporal cortex, a large region encompassing V4, PITd, and posterior TEO that some have proposed functions as a single visual complex, we found color-biased fMRI hotspots that we call "globs," each several millimeters wide. Almost all cells located in globs showed strong luminance-invariant color tuning and some shape selectivity. Cells in different globs represented distinct visual field locations, consistent with the coarse retinotopy of this brain region. Cells in "interglob" regions were not color tuned, but were more strongly shape selective. Neither population was direction selective. These results suggest that color perception is mediated by specialized neurons that are clustered within the extrastriate brain.

Additional Information

© 2007 Elsevier Inc. Received 6 June 2007, Revised 15 August 2007, Accepted 2 October 2007, Available online 7 November 2007. Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation (B.R.C. and D.Y.T.) and by the German Ministry for Science and Education, Grant 01GO0506 (Bremen Center for Advanced Imaging). B.R.C. received additional support from the Harvard Society of Fellows and the Neuroscience Program, Wellesley College. We thank Katrin Thoss, Ramatsani Hakizimana, and Nicole Schweers for expert animal care; Karoline Spang and Katrin Sebald assisted in calibrating monitors. David Freeman designed the physiology software; Winrich Freiwald, Heiko Stemman, Aurel Wannig, David Hubel, Margaret Livingstone, and Alexander Rehding contributed to useful discussions; Guerbet provided the contrast agent. This paper is dedicated to the memory of our dear friend David C. Freeman.

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