Color-biased regions in the ventral visual pathway are food selective

Ian M.L. Pennock, Chris Racey, Emily J. Allen, Yihan Wu, Thomas Naselaris, Kendrick N. Kay, Anna Franklin, Jenny M. Bosten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Color-biased regions have been found between face- and place-selective areas in the ventral visual pathway. To investigate the function of the color-biased regions in a pathway responsible for object recognition, we analyzed the natural scenes dataset (NSD), a large 7T fMRI dataset from 8 participants who each viewed up to 30,000 trials of images of colored natural scenes over more than 30 scanning sessions. In a whole-brain analysis, we correlated the average color saturation of the images with voxel responses, revealing color-biased regions that diverge into two streams, beginning in V4 and extending medially and laterally relative to the fusiform face area in both hemispheres. We drew regions of interest (ROIs) for the two streams and found that the images for each ROI that evoked the largest responses had certain characteristics: they contained food, circular objects, warmer hues, and had higher color saturation. Further analyses showed that food images were the strongest predictor of activity in these regions, implying the existence of medial and lateral ventral food streams (VFSs). We found that color also contributed independently to voxel responses, suggesting that the medial and lateral VFSs use both color and form to represent food. Our findings illustrate how high-resolution datasets such as the NSD can be used to disentangle the multifaceted contributions of many visual features to the neural representations of natural scenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-146.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Collection and pre-processing of MRI data was supported by NSF IIS-1822683 (K.N.K.), NSF IIS-1822929 (T.N.), NIH S10 RR026783, and the W.M. Keck Foundation . The analyses described here were supported by European Research Council grants COLOURMIND 772193 (A.F.) and COLOURCODE 949242 (J.M.B.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)


  • VFS
  • color vision
  • fMRI
  • food
  • natural scenes
  • ventral food stream
  • ventral visual pathway

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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