The physiology of perception in human temporal lobe is specialized for contextual novelty

Kai J. Miller, Dora Hermes, Nathan Witthoft, Rajesh P.N. Rao, Jeffrey G. Ojemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The human ventral temporal cortex has regions that are known to selectively process certain categories of visual inputs; they are specialized for the content (“faces,” “places,” “tools”) and not the form (“line,” “patch”) of the image being seen. In our study, human patients with implanted electrocorticography (ECoG) electrode arrays were shown sequences of simple face and house pictures. We quantified neuronal population activity, finding robust face-selective sites on the fusiform gyrus and house-selective sites on the lingual/parahippocampal gyri. The magnitude and timing of single trials were compared between novel (“house-face”) and repeated (“face-face”) stimulus-type responses. More than half of the category-selective sites showed significantly greater total activity for novel stimulus class. Approximately half of the face-selective sites (and none of the house-selective sites) showed significantly faster latency to peak (~50 ms) for novel stimulus class. This establishes subregions within category-selective areas that are differentially tuned to novelty in sequential context, where novel stimuli are processed faster in some regions, and with increased activity in others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 13 2015


  • Adaptation
  • Broadband
  • Electrocorticography
  • Face processing
  • Temporal cortex
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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