Functional selectivity in the human occipitotemporal cortex during natural vision: evidence from combined intracranial EEG and eye-tracking.


  • Hamamé Carlos M
  • Vidal Juan R
  • Perrone-Bertolotti Marcela
  • Ossandón Tomas
  • Jerbi Karim
  • Kahane Philippe
  • Bertrand Olivier
  • Lachaux Jean-Philippe

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: Eye movements are a constant and essential component of natural vision, yet, most of our knowledge about the human visual system comes from experiments that restrict them. This experimental constraint is mostly in place to control visual stimuli presentation and to avoid artifacts in non-invasive measures of brain activity, however, this limitation can be overcome with intracranial EEG (iEEG) recorded from epilepsy patients. Moreover, the high-frequency components of the iEEG signal (between about 50 and 150Hz) can provide a proxy of population-level spiking activity in any cortical area during free-viewing. We combined iEEG with high precision eye-tracking to study fine temporal dynamics and functional specificity in the fusiform face (FFA) and visual word form area (VWFA) while patients inspected natural pictures containing faces and text. We defined the first local measure of visual (electrophysiological) responsiveness adapted to free-viewing in humans: amplitude modulations in the high-frequency activity range (50-150Hz) following fixations (fixation-related high-frequency response). We showed that despite the large size of receptive fields in the ventral occipito-temporal cortex, neural activity during natural vision of realistic cluttered scenes is mostly dependent upon the category of the foveated stimulus - suggesting that category-specificity is preserved during free-viewing and that attention mechanisms might filter out the influence of objects surrounding the fovea.

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