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Free Content Color Responses of the Human Brain Explored with fMRI

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In the primate brain, visual information flows from the retina to the thalamus (the lateral geniculate nucleus, LGN) and on to the primary visual cortex (V1). From V1, information is then passed to the different areas of the extra striate cortex, as well as feeding back to the LGN. These extra striate visual areas, each with its own retinotopic “map” of the visual scene, are thought to be divided initially into at least 2 distinct groups based on their visual function. The role of the “dorsal” visual areas is considered to be one of “action” and motion, with processing specialized for the encoding of movement within the visual scene, whereas the “ventral” visual areas are thought to encode object representations. I will discuss, based on my recent work, how color vision relates to these two distinct types of specialization. I will draw mainly on my recent fMRI work, which has revealed the different color specializations of the visual cortical areas as well as their specializations for temporal change. I will compare the level of specialization found for color as opposed to achromatic processing as information moves from the human LGN to the dorsal and ventral cortical pathways, for both static and dynamic stimuli. I will take a critical approach to understanding how fMRI BOLD responses may relate to other key measures of cortical function, including psychophysical (behavioral) responses and the responses of single cells measured neurophysiologically, discussing the limitations of each approach. I will also draw on my psychophysical work to demonstrate how the behavioral functions of color vision relate to the object-centered versus motion-centered pathways if human vision.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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  • CIC is the premier annual technical gathering for scientists, technologists, and engineers working in the areas of color science and systems, and their application to color imaging. Participants represent disciplines ranging from psychophysics, optical physics, image processing, color science to graphic arts, systems engineering, and hardware and software development. While a broad mix of professional interests is the hallmark of these conferences, the focus is color. CICs traditionally offer two days of short courses followed by three days of technical sessions that include three keynotes, an evening lecture, a vibrant interactive (poster) papers session, and workshops. An endearing symbol of the meeting is the Cactus Award, given each year to the author(s) of the best interactive paper; there are also Best Paper and Best Student Paper awards.

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