Trade-off between object selectivity and tolerance in monkey inferotemporal cortex

TitleTrade-off between object selectivity and tolerance in monkey inferotemporal cortex
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsZoccolan D, Kouh M, Poggio T, DiCarlo JJ
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Date Publishednov
KeywordsAdaptation, Animals, Cerebral Cortex, Form Perception, Haplorhini, Photic Stimulation, Physiological, Reaction Time, Temporal Lobe

Object recognition requires both selectivity among different objects and tolerance to vastly different retinal images of the same object, resulting from natural variation in (e.g.) position, size, illumination, and clutter. Thus, discovering neuronal responses that have object selectivity and tolerance to identity-preserving transformations is fundamental to understanding object recognition. Although selectivity and tolerance are found at the highest level of the primate ventral visual stream [the inferotemporal cortex {(IT)],} both properties are highly varied and poorly understood. If an {IT} neuron has very sharp selectivity for a unique combination of object features ("diagnostic features"), this might automatically endow it with high tolerance. However, this relationship cannot be taken as given; although some {IT} neurons are highly object selective and some are highly tolerant, the empirical connection of these key properties is unknown. In this study, we systematically measured both object selectivity and tolerance to different identity-preserving image transformations in the spiking responses of a population of monkey {IT} neurons. We found that {IT} neurons with high object selectivity typically have low tolerance (and vice versa), regardless of how object selectivity was quantified and the type of tolerance examined. The discovery of this trade-off illuminates object selectivity and tolerance in {IT} and unifies a range of previous, seemingly disparate results. This finding also argues against the idea that diagnostic conjunctions of features guarantee tolerance. Instead, it is naturally explained by object recognition models in which object selectivity is built through {AND-like} tuning mechanisms.

Refereed DesignationRefereed

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