Some of the most impressive functional specialization in the human brain is found in occipitotemporal cortex (OTC), where several areas exhibit selectivity for a small number of visual categories, such as faces and bodies, and spatially cluster based on stimulus animacy. Previous studies suggest this animacy organization reflects the representation of an intuitive taxonomic hierarchy, distinct from the presence of face- and body-selective areas in OTC. Using human fMRI, we investigated the independent contribution of these two factors, the face-body division and taxonomic hierarchy, in accounting for the animacy organization of OTC, and whether they might also be reflected in the architecture of several deep neural networks. We found that graded selectivity based on animal resemblance to human faces and bodies masquerades as an apparent animacy continuum, which suggests that taxonomy is not a separate factor underlying the organization of the ventral visual pathway.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience