Spatially specific fMRI repetition effects in human visual cortex

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The functional MRI (fMRI) response to a pair of identical, successively presented stimuli can result in a smaller signal than the presentation of two nonidentical stimuli. This "repetition effect" has become a frequently used tool to make inferences about neural selectivity in specific cortical areas. However, little is known about the mechanism(s) underlying the effect. In particular, despite many successful applications of the technique in higher visual areas, repetition effects in lower visual areas [e.g., primary visual cortex (V1)] have been more difficult to characterize. One property that is well understood in early visual areas is the mapping of visual field locations to specific areas of the cortex (i.e., retinotopy). We used the retinotopic organization of V1 to activate progressively different populations of neurons in a rapid fMRI experimental design. We observed a repetition effect (reduced signal) when localized stimulus elements were repeated in identical locations. We show that this effect is spatially tuned and largely independent of both interstimulus interval (100-800 ms) and the focus of attention. Using the same timing parameters for which we observed a large effect of spatial position, we also examined the response to orientation changes and observed no effect of an orientation change on the response to repeated stimuli in V1 but significant effects in other retinotopic areas. Given these results, we discuss the possible causes of these repetition effects as well as the implications for interpreting other experiments that use this potentially powerful imaging technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2439-2445
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


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