In Nature communications ; h5-index 260.0
A central regularity of visual perception is the co-occurrence of objects in the natural environment. Here we use machine learning and fMRI to test the hypothesis that object co-occurrence statistics are encoded in the human visual system and elicited by the perception of individual objects. We identified low-dimensional representations that capture the latent statistical structure of object co-occurrence in real-world scenes, and we mapped these statistical representations onto voxel-wise fMRI responses during object viewing. We found that cortical responses to single objects were predicted by the statistical ensembles in which they typically occur, and that this link between objects and their visual contexts was made most strongly in parahippocampal cortex, overlapping with the anterior portion of scene-selective parahippocampal place area. In contrast, a language-based statistical model of the co-occurrence of object names in written text predicted responses in neighboring regions of object-selective visual cortex. Together, these findings show that the sensory coding of objects in the human brain reflects the latent statistics of object context in visual and linguistic experience.
Bonner Michael F, Epstein Russell A