Neural mechanism of dynamic responses of neurons in inferior temporal cortex in face perception
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Understanding the neural mechanisms of object and face recognition is one of the fundamental challenges of visual neuroscience. The neurons in inferior temporal (IT) cortex have been reported to exhibit dynamic responses to face stimuli. However, little is known about how the dynamic properties of IT neurons emerge in the face information processing. To address this issue, we made a model of IT cortex, which performs face perception via an interaction between different IT networks. The model was based on the face information processed by three resolution maps in early visual areas. The network model of IT cortex consists of four kinds of networks, in which the information about a whole face is combined with the information about its face parts and their arrangements. We show here that the learning of face stimuli makes the functional connections between these IT networks, causing a high spike correlation of IT neuron pairs. A dynamic property of subthreshold membrane potential of IT neuron, produced by Hodgkin–Huxley model, enables the coordination of temporal information without changing the firing rate, providing the basis of the mechanism underlying face perception. We show also that the hierarchical processing of face information allows IT cortex to perform a “coarse-to-fine” processing of face information. The results presented here seem to be compatible with experimental data about dynamic properties of IT neurons.
KeywordsInferior temporal cortex Dynamic response Hierarchical processing Face perception Neural model
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