Functionally localized representations contain distributed information: insight from simulations of deep convolutional neural networks


Preferential activation to faces in the brain’s fusiform gyrus has led to the proposed existence of a face module termed the Fusiform Face Area (FFA) (Kanwisher et. al, 1997). However, arguments for distributed, topographical object-form representations in FFA and across visual cortex have been proposed to explain data showing that FFA activation patterns contain decodable information about non-face categories (Haxby et. al, 2001; Hanson & Schmidt, 2011). Using two deep convolutional neural network models able to perform human-level object and facial recognition, respectively, we demonstrate that both localized category representations (LCRs) and high-level face-specific representations allow for similar decoding accuracy between non-preferred visual categories as between a preferred and non-preferred category. Our results suggest that neuroimaging of a cortical “module” optimized for face processing should yield significant decodable information for non-face categories so long as representations within the module are activated by non-face stimuli.

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