MEG Reading Group

Journal Club Discussion -- Category-selectivity | Phase Coding | Superior Temporal Sulcus

after the usual Monday MEG meeting (6th Floor Meeting Room; 11am)

"Category-selective phase coding in the superior temporal sulcus"

Turesson et al. (2012) | doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217012109

Abstract Object perception and categorization can occur so rapidly that behavioral responses precede or co-occur with the firing rate changes in the object-selective neocortex. Phase coding could, in principle, support rapid representation of object categories, whereby the first spikes evoked by a stimulus would appear at different phases of an oscillation, depending on the object category. To determine whether object-selective regions of the neo-cortex demonstrate phase coding, we presented images of faces and objects to two monkeys while recording local field potentials (LFP) and single unit activity from object-selective regions in the upper bank superior temporal sulcus. Single units showed preferred phases of firing that depended on stimulus category, emerging with the initiation of spiking responses after stimulus onset. Differences in phase of firing were seen below 20 Hz and in the gamma and high-gamma frequency ranges. For all but the <20-Hz cluster, phase differences remained category-specific even when controlling for stimulus-locked activity, revealing that phase-specific firing is not a simple consequence of category-specific differences in the evoked responses of the LFP. In addition, we tested for firing rate-to-phase conversion. Category-specific differences in firing rates accounted for 30–40% of the explained variance in phase occurring at lower frequencies (<20 Hz) during the initial response, but was limited (<20% of the explained variance) in the 30- to 60-Hz frequency range, suggesting that gamma phase-of-firing effects reflect more than evoked LFP and firing rate responses. The present results are consistent with theoretical models of rapid object processing and extend previous observations of phase coding to include object-selective neocortex.