Imaging Perception

  • Assaf Harel
  • Chris I. BakerEmail author


We engage the world through our senses. During perception, physical signals (e.g., sound waves) are converted into electrical signals in specialized receptors and conveyed to the brain where they are processed and synthesized. In this chapter, we describe how MRI can provide critical insights into this process at both cortical and subcortical levels. In particular, we highlight similarities and differences in perceptual processing between the different sensory modalities. First, we describe the parallel and hierarchical sensory pathways, with neural representations growing in complexity from simple (e.g., orientation, frequency) to more complex (e.g., faces, speech) features. Second, we look at cortical organization, focusing on topographical maps, which reflect the organization of the receptors on the sensory surfaces, as well as higher-order organization such as category selectivity. We also emphasize that perception is driven by both bottom-up (sensory driven) and top-down (internally generated) signals, integrating our prior knowledge and attention in shaping our current percepts. Finally, we discuss how perception is highly malleable and influenced by experience from development through adulthood and from short (seconds) to long (years) time scales.


Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Sensory Surface Perceptual Representation Bold Response Piriform Cortex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Brodmann area


Blood oxygenation dependent


Echoplanar imaging


Fusiform face area


Lateral geniculate nucleus


Multi-voxel pattern analysis


Occipitotemporal cortex


Parahippocampal place area


Support vector machines


Primary visual cortex


Prestriate cortex


Extrastriate visual area V3


Extrastriate visual area V4


Extrastriate visual area V5/MT (middle temporal)


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Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Brain and CognitionNational Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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