1. Neuroscience
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Integrative and distinctive coding of visual and conceptual object features in the ventral visual stream

  1. Chris B Martin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Danielle Douglas
  3. Rachel N Newsome
  4. Louisa LY Man
  5. Morgan Barense  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Toronto, Canada
  2. Mount Allison University, Canada
  3. Rotman Research Institute, Canada
  4. Queen's University, Canada
Research Article
  • Cited 38
  • Views 3,611
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e31873 doi: 10.7554/eLife.31873


A significant body of research in cognitive neuroscience is aimed at understanding how object concepts are represented in the human brain. However, it remains unknown whether and where the visual and abstract conceptual features that define an object concept are integrated. We addressed this issue by comparing the neural pattern similarities among object-evoked fMRI responses with behavior-based models that independently captured the visual and conceptual similarities among these stimuli. Our results revealed evidence for distinctive coding of visual features in lateral occipital cortex, and conceptual features in the temporal pole and parahippocampal cortex. By contrast, we found evidence for integrative coding of visual and conceptual object features in perirhinal cortex. The neuroanatomical specificity of this effect was highlighted by results from a searchlight analysis. Taken together, our findings suggest that perirhinal cortex uniquely supports the representation of fully-specified object concepts through the integration of their visual and conceptual features.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Chris B Martin

    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7014-4371
  2. Danielle Douglas

    Department of Psychology, Mount Allison University, Sackville, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Rachel N Newsome

    Rotman Research Institute, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Louisa LY Man

    Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Morgan Barense

    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

  • Morgan Barense

James S. McDonnell Foundation

  • Morgan Barense

Canada Research Chairs

  • Morgan Barense

Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation

  • Morgan Barense

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (PDF - 502437 - 2017)

  • Chris B Martin

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University ofToronto (REB # 23778) and the Research Ethics Board at Baycrest Hospital (REB # 15-06). Informed consent was obtained from each participant before the experiment, including consent to publish anonymized results.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Nicole Rust, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: September 10, 2017
  2. Accepted: February 1, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 2, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 1, 2018 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: March 6, 2018 (version 3)
  6. Version of Record updated: May 21, 2018 (version 4)


© 2018, Martin et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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