Rapid shape detection signals in area V4

Katherine F. Weiner, Geoffrey M. Ghose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Vision in foveate animals is an active process that requires rapid and constant decision-making. For example, when a new object appears in the visual field, we can quickly decide to inspect it by directing our eyes to the object's location. We studied the contribution of primate area V4 to these types of rapid foveation decisions. Animals performed a reaction time task that required them to report when any shape appeared within a peripherally-located noisy stimulus by making a saccade to the stimulus location. We found that about half of the randomly sampled V4 neurons not only rapidly and precisely represented the appearance of this shape, but they were also predictive of the animal's saccades. A neuron's ability to predict the animal's saccades was not related to the specificity with which the cell represented a single type of shape but rather to its ability to signal whether any shape was present. This relationship between sensory sensitivity and behavioral predictiveness was not due to global effects such as alertness, as it was equally likely to be observed for cells with increases and decreases in firing rate. Careful analysis of the timescales of reliability in these neurons implies that they reflect both feedforward and feedback shape detecting processes. In approximately 7% of our recorded sample, individual neurons were able to predict both the delay and precision of the animal's shape detection performance. This suggests that a subset of V4 neurons may have been directly and causally contributing to task performance and that area V4 likely plays a critical role in guiding rapid, form-based foveation decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 294
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Weiner and Ghose.


  • Foveation
  • Rapid shape detection
  • Reaction time
  • Saccades
  • Temporal precision
  • Ventral visual stream
  • Visual decision making


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