May 9, 2021

Causal evidence for a double dissociation between object- and scene-selective regions of visual cortex: A pre-registered TMS replication study

Background: Daily-life scenes contain both global layout information as well as local object information. Accordingly, functional neuroimaging research has identified regions in visual cortex that represent either global scene layout or local object properties. Specifically, fMRI activity patterns in scene-selective regions, including the occipital place area (OPA), carry information about the layout of the scene, but not about object content. Conversely, fMRI activity patterns in object-selective regions, including the lateral occipital complex (LOC), carry information about object content, but not about scene layout. However, causal evidence for a double dissociation between OPA and LOC in representing scenes and objects, respectively, is currently limited. Objective: One TMS experiment, conducted in a small sample (N=13), reported a double dissociation between OPA and LOC in scene and object recognition tasks. In the current study, we present a high-powered (N=72) pre-registered replication of Dilks et al., testing for a double dissociation between OPA and LOC. Results: Our findings fully replicate the original report, providing even more convincing evidence showing that TMS over OPA selectively impairs the recognition of scenes, while TMS over LOC selectively impairs the recognition of objects. Furthermore, we found that these effects were stable over time and consistent across individual objects and scenes. Conclusions: We conclude that OPA and LOC can be reliably targeted with TMS, selectively disrupting either scene or object processing. The selective interference of scene and object processing allows future TMS studies to address new questions, including about how scene and object processing interact during naturalistic vision.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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