Neural Basis of Object-Centered Representations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 10 (NIPS 1997)

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Sophie Denève, Alexandre Pouget


We present a neural model that can perform eye movements to a particular side of an object regardless of the position and orienta(cid:173) tion of the object in space, a generalization of a task which has been recently used by Olson and Gettner [4] to investigate the neu(cid:173) ral structure of object-centered representations. Our model uses an intermediate representation in which units have oculocentric recep(cid:173) tive fields- just like collicular neurons- whose gain is modulated by the side of the object to which the movement is directed, as well as the orientation of the object. We show that these gain modulations are consistent with Olson and Gettner's single cell recordings in the supplementary eye field. This demonstrates that it is possible to perform an object-centered task without a representation involv(cid:173) ing an object-centered map, viz., without neurons whose receptive fields are defined in object-centered coordinates. We also show that the same approach can account for object-centered neglect, a situ(cid:173) ation in which patients with a right parietal lesion neglect the left side of objects regardless of the orientation of the objects.

Several authors have argued that tasks such as object recognition [3] and manipula(cid:173) tion [4] are easier to perform if the object is represented in object-centered coordi(cid:173) nates, a representation in which the subparts of the object are encoded with respect to a frame of reference centered on the object. Compelling evidence for the existence of such representations in the cortex comes from experiments on hemineglect- a neurological syndrome resulting from unilateral lesions of the parietal cortex such that a right lesion, for example, leads patients to ignore stimuli located on the left side of their egocentric space. Recently, Driver et al. (1994) showed that the deficit can also be object-centered. Hence, hemineglect patients can detect a gap in the upper edge of a triangle when this gap is associated with the right side of the object

Neural Basis of Object-Centered Representations