Journal of Neuroscience vol:15 issue:3 Pt 1 pages:1984-97
Humans are able to recognize shapes even when they are partially occluded by another pattern. We determined whether inferior temporal (IT) units of awake rhesus monkey remain selective for shapes that are partially occluded by other patterns. In order to link the shape selectivity to shape discrimination, we established that the monkey, like humans, can discriminate partially occluded shapes. We found that IT units are selective for shapes partially occluded by static or moving patterns. The responsiveness, however, decreased with the degree of occlusion. The shape-selective responses to the occluded shapes required longer stimulus durations compared to nonoccluded shapes, matching the better shape discrimination performance at short durations in the no-occlusion compared to the occlusion conditions. Occluder visibility had no effect for shape outlines, indicating that (amodal) shape completion, which is absent when the occluder is invisible, is not necessary for shape selectivity. These data indicate that IT neurons can, indeed, contribute to the invariance of shape perception for changes in retinal input caused by partial occlusion of the shape.