Chapter 14: To err is human: investigating neural function by correlating error patterns with human behavior

Dirk Walther, Diane M. Beck and Li Fei-Fei
Department of Psychology, Ohio State University
Princeton University

Vision science has made tremendous progress in understanding how the brain processes various components of our visual world. Much of this progress is owed to the advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a non-invasive neuroimaging method that allows for the imaging of activity in the whole brain. Indeed, fMRI has enabled the mapping of several important visual areas in the human brain, for instance, retinotopic visual cortex including primary visual cortex and extrastriate regions (Engel, Rumelhart et al. 1994), the lateral occipital cortex for object perception (Malach, Reppas et al. 1995), the fusiform face area (Kanwisher, McDermott et al. 1997), and the parahippocampal place area (Epstein and Kanwisher 1998). In these seminal studies univariate statistics (each voxel was treated independently) was employed to produce maps of functional activity. It has now been shown that considering the specific pattern of activity of multiple voxels in response to visually presented objects allows for finer distinctions between categories of objects, leveraging the distributed nature of the representation of objects in the human brain (Haxby, Gobbini et al. 2001). This discovery has spurred a surge of studies applying multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) techniques to many questions in visual neuroscience and beyond.