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|Paper IPM / Cognitive / 13470||
Visual object categorization is a critical task in our everyday life. Many studies have explored category representation in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex at the level of single neurons and population. However, it is not clear how behavioral demands modulate this category representation. Here we recorded from the IT single neurons in monkeys performing two different tasks with the identical visual stimuli: passive fixation and body/object categorization. We found that the category selectivity of the IT neurons was improved in the categorization task compared to the passive task where reward was not contingent on image category. The category improvement was the result of larger rate enhancement for the preferred category and smaller response variability for both preferred and non-preferred categories. These specific modulations in the response of IT category neurons enhanced the signal to noise ratio of the neural responses to discriminate better between the preferred and non-preferred categories. Our results provide new insight into the adaptable category representation in the IT cortex which depends on the behavioral demands and also the neural processes underlying the visual object category information.
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