Ultra-high-resolution fMRI of Human Ventral Temporal Cortex Reveals Differential Representation of Categories and Domains

Eshed Margalit, Keith W. Jamison, Kevin S. Weiner, Luca Vizioli, Ru Yuan Zhang, Kendrick N. Kay, Kalanit Grill-Spector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Human ventral temporal cortex (VTC) is critical for visual recognition. It is thought that this ability is supported by large-scale patterns of activity across VTC that contain information about visual categories. However, it is unknown how category representations in VTC are organized at the submillimeter scale and across cortical depths. To fill this gap in knowledge, we measured BOLD responses in medial and lateral VTC to images spanning 10 categories from five domains (written characters, bodies, faces, places, and objects) at an ultra-high spatial resolution of 0.8 mm using 7 Tesla fMRI in both male and female participants. Representations in lateral VTC were organized most strongly at the general level of domains (e.g., places), whereas medial VTC was also organized at the level of specific categories (e.g., corridors and houses within the domain of places). In both lateral and medial VTC, domain-level and category-level structure decreased with cortical depth, and downsampling our data to standard resolution (2.4 mm) did not reverse differences in representations between lateral and medial VTC. The functional diversity of representations across VTC partitions may allow downstream regions to read out information in a flexible manner according to task demands. These results bridge an important gap between electrophysiological recordings in single neurons at the micron scale in nonhuman primates and standard-resolution fMRI in humans by elucidating distributed responses at the submillimeter scale with ultra-high-resolution fMRI in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3008-3024
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 8 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Science Foundation GRFP to E.M.; National Eye Institute 1R01EY023915 to K.G.-S.;NationalInstitutesofHealthGrantsP41EB015894,P30NS076408,S10RR026783,andS10OD017974-01to K.N.K.; and W. M. Keck Foundation to K.N.K.


  • Cortical depth
  • High-level visual cortex
  • Ventral temporal cortex
  • Visual categories
  • Visual representations

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