The medial temporal lobe (MTL) supports a constellation of memory-related behaviors. Its involvement in perceptual processing, however, has been subject to an enduring debate. This debate centers on perirhinal cortex (PRC), an MTL structure at the apex of the ventral visual stream (VVS). Here we leverage a deep learning approach that approximates visual behaviors supported by the VVS. We first apply this approach retroactively, modeling 29 published concurrent visual discrimination experiments: Excluding misclassified stimuli, there is a striking correspondence between VVS-modeled and PRC-lesioned behavior, while each are outperformed by PRC-intact participants. We corroborate these results using high-throughput psychophysics experiments: PRC-intact participants outperform a linear readout of electrophysiological recordings from the macaque VVS. Finally, in silico experiments suggest PRC enables out-of-distribution visual behaviors at rapid timescales. By situating these lesion, electrophysiological, and behavioral results within a shared computational framework, this work resolves decades of seemingly inconsistent experimental findings surrounding PRC involvement in perception.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience