Journal of Comparative Neurology vol:426 issue:4 pages:505-18
Recent findings in dorsal visual stream areas and computational work raise the question whether neurons at the end station of the ventral visual stream can code for stimulus position. The authors provide the first detailed, quantitative data on the spatial sensitivity of neurons in the anterior part of the inferior temporal cortex (area TE) in awake, fixating monkeys. They observed a large variation in receptive field (RF) size (ranging from 2.8 degrees to 26 degrees ). TE neurons differed in their optimal position, with a bias toward the foveal position. Moreover, the RF profiles of most TE neurons could be fitted well with a two-dimensional Gaussian function. Most neurons had only one region of high sensitivity and showed a smooth decline in sensitivity toward more distal positions. In addition, the authors investigated some of the possible determinants of such spatial sensitivity. First, testing with low-pass filtered versions of the stimuli revealed that the general preference for the foveal position and the size of the RFs was not due simply to TE neurons receiving input with a lower spatial resolution at more eccentric positions. The foveal position was still preferred after intense low-pass filtering. Second, although an increase in stimulus size consistently broadened spatial sensitivity profiles, it did not change the qualitative features of these profiles. Moreover, size selectivity of TE neurons was generally position invariant. Overall, the results suggest that TE neurons can code for the position of stimuli in the central region of the visual field.