The ventral pathway is involved in primate visual object recognition. In humans, a central stage in this pathway is an occipito-temporal region termed the lateral occipital complex (LOC), which is preferentially activated by visual objects compared to scrambled images or textures. However, objects have characteristic attributes (such as three-dimensional shape) that can be perceived both visually and haptically. Therefore, object-related brain areas may hold a representation of objects in both modalities. Using fMRI to map object-related brain regions, we found robust and consistent somatosensory activation in the occipito-temporal cortex. This region showed clear preference for objects compared to textures in both modalities. Most somatosensory object-selective voxels overlapped a part of the visual object-related region LOC. Thus, we suggest that neuronal populations in the occipito-temporal cortex may constitute a multimodal object-related network.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank M. Harel for the cortex reconstruction, E. Okon for technical assistance and design, and I. Levy for software development. We thank S. Hochstein, G. Avidan-Carmel and U. Hason for their comments. This study was funded by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) grant number I-576-040.01/98 and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities grant 8009/00-1.