Temporally flexible feedback signal to foveal cortex for peripheral object recognition

Xiaoxu Fan, Lan Wang, Hanyu Shao, Daniel Kersten, Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent studies have shown that information from peripherally presented images is present in the human foveal retinotopic cortex, presumably because of feedback signals. We investigated this potential feedback signal by presenting noise in fovea at different object-noise stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), whereas subjects performed a discrimination task on peripheral objects. Results revealed a selective impairment of performance when foveal noise was presented at 250-ms SOA, but only for tasks that required comparing objects' spatial details, suggesting a task- and stimulus-dependent foveal processing mechanism. Critically, the temporal window of foveal processing was shifted when mental rotation was required for the peripheral objects, indicating that the foveal retinotopic processing is not automatically engaged at a fixed time following peripheral stimulation; rather, it occurs at a stage when detailed information is required. Moreover, fMRI measurements using multivoxel pattern analysis showed that both image and object category-relevant information of peripheral objects was represented in the foveal cortex. Taken together, our results support the hypothesis of a temporally flexible feedback signal to the foveal retinotopic cortex when discriminating objects in the visual periphery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11627-11632
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 11 2016


  • Feedback
  • Fovea
  • Object recognition
  • Periphery
  • Visual cortex

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