The influence of object-color knowledge on emerging object representations in the brain
Number of pages
SourceThe Journal of Neuroscience, 40, 35, (2020), pp. 6779-6789
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
The Journal of Neuroscience
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
The ability to rapidly and accurately recognize complex objects is a crucial function of the human visual system. To recognize an object, we need to bind incoming visual features, such as color and form, together into cohesive neural representations and integrate these with our preexisting knowledge about the world. For some objects, typical color is a central feature for recognition; for example, a banana is typically yellow. Here, we applied multivariate pattern analysis on time-resolved neuroimaging (MEG) data to examine how object-color knowledge affects emerging object representations over time. Our results from 20 participants (11 female) show that the typicality of object-color combinations influences object representations, although not at the initial stages of object and color processing. We find evidence that color decoding peaks later for atypical object-color combinations compared with typical object-color combinations, illustrating the interplay between processing incoming object features and stored object knowledge. Together, these results provide new insights into the integration of incoming visual information with existing conceptual object knowledge. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT To recognize objects, we have to be able to bind object features, such as color and shape, into one coherent representation and compare it with stored object knowledge. The MEG data presented here provide novel insights about the integration of incoming visual information with our knowledge about the world. Using color as a model to understand the interaction between seeing and knowing, we show that there is a unique pattern of brain activity for congruently colored objects (e.g., a yellow banana) relative to incongruently colored objects (e.g., a red banana). This effect of object-color knowledge only occurs after single object features are processed, demonstrating that conceptual knowledge is accessed relatively late in the visual processing hierarchy.
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