Neuroimaging evidence for object model verification theory: Role of prefrontal control in visual object categorization

Giorgio GanisS M Kosslyn


Although the visual system rapidly categorizes objects seen under optimal viewing conditions, the categorization of objects seen under impoverished viewing conditions not only requires more time but may also depend more on top-down processing, as hypothesized by object model verification theory. Two studies, one with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and one behavioral with the same stimuli, tested this hypothesis. FMRI data were acquired while people categorized more impoverished (MI) and less impoverished (LI) line drawings of objects. FMRI results revealed stronger activation during the MI than LI condition in brain regions involved in top-down control (inferior and medial prefrontal cortex, intraparietal sulcus), and in posterior, object-sensitive brain regions (ventral and dorsal occipitotemporal, and occipitoparietal cortex). The behavioral study indicated that taxing visuospatial working memory, a key component of top-down control processes during visual tasks, interferes more with the categorization of MI stimuli (but not LI stimuli) than does taxing verbal working memory. Together, these findings provide evidence for object model verification theory and implicate greater prefrontal cortex involvement in top-...Continue Reading


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