Biomedical Research 14, Supplement 4, 21-27, 1993

COLUMNS IN THE INFEROTEMPORAL CORTEX:
MACHINERY FOR VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF OBJECTS

Ichiro Fujita

ABSTRACT
The anterior part of the inferotemporal cortex, cytoarchitectonic area TE, lies at the final stage of the visual cortical pathway essential to object recognition in the monkey. TE cells respond selectively to particular visual features of objects such as shape, color, texture or often a combination of these. Stimulus features critical for activating individual TE cells are more complex than those for neurons at earlier stages of the visual system, although they are still simpler than the complexity of a real-world object. We have recently found that TE cells responsive to similar object features cluster vertically across the cortical layers to form columnar organizations. The width of each column is 0.4 mm on average, and one TE is estimated to contain 2,000 columns. The limited number of distinct object features represented in columns may constitute the ‘visual alphabet’ or a ‘basis set’ of object features to which the brain decomposes visual images of objects.

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