Decoding visual object categories in early somatosensory cortex

Fraser Smith, Melvyn Goodale

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45 Citations (Scopus)
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Neurons, even in the earliest sensory areas of cortex, are subject to a great deal of contextual influence from both within and across modality connections. In the present work, we investigated whether the earliest regions of somatosensory cortex (S1 and S2) would contain content-specific information about visual object categories. We reasoned that this might be possible due to the associations formed through experience that link different sensory aspects of a given object. Participants were presented with visual images of different object categories in 2 fMRI experiments. Multivariate pattern analysis revealed reliable decoding of familiar visual object category in bilateral S1 (i.e., postcentral gyri) and right S2. We further show that this decoding is observed for familiar but not unfamiliar visual objects in S1. In addition, whole-brain searchlight decoding analyses revealed several areas in the parietal lobe that could mediate the observed context effects between vision and somatosensation. These results demonstrate that even the first cortical stages of somatosensory processing carry information about the category of visually presented familiar objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1031
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
Early online date11 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • S1
  • S2
  • multivoxel pattern analysis
  • posterior parietal cortex
  • multisensory

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