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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 153–164 | Cite as

The effect of learning on the face selective responses of neurons in the cortex in the superior temporal sulcus of the monkey

  • E. T. Rolls
  • G. C. Baylis
  • M. E. Hasselmo
  • V. Nalwa
Article

Summary

Neurophysiological studies have shown that some neurons in the cortex in the superior temporal sulcus and the inferior temporal gyrus of macaque monkeys respond to faces. These neurons provided a consistently identifiable substrate with which studies of the storage of visual information were performed. To determine whether face responsive neurons change how much they respond to different novel faces as they become familiar, neurons were tested with two experimental designs. In the first experiment, 22 neurons were tested on their responsiveness to the different members of a large set of novel faces as the set was presented repeatedly until the faces became familiar. 6 neurons altered the relative degree to which they responded to the different members of the set between the first two presentations and subsequent presentations. In a control condition, only 1 out of 17 neurons showed a significant response difference between the first two presentations and subsequent presentations when the experiment started with faces which were already familiar to the monkey. In the second experiment, 26 neurons were tested on their responsiveness to the different members of a set of familiar faces before and after the addition of a novel face to the set. 5 neurons altered the relative degree in which they responded to the different members of the set of familiar faces after addition of a novel face. It is suggested that these changes in neuronal responsiveness to different stimuli reflect the setting up of an ensemble encoded representation of face stimuli. This alteration of neuronal responsiveness as novel faces become familiar suggests that face responsive neurons may store information useful in visual recognition.

In addition to this relatively long-term alteration of relative neuronal responsiveness to different stimuli, it was found that a large number of cells showed a higher mean response to the first presentation of a set of novel faces than to subsequent presentations of the faces. However, the response to the first presentation of a set of familiar faces was also higher than to subsequent presentations in that sequence. This pattern indicates a short term recency effect in the response of these neurons to visual stimuli which is similar to that previously reported (Baylis and Rolls 1987).

Key words

Inferior temporal visual cortex Face Visual encoding Learning Recognition Memory 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. T. Rolls
    • 1
  • G. C. Baylis
    • 1
  • M. E. Hasselmo
    • 1
  • V. Nalwa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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