9.71 | Fall 2007 | Undergraduate

Functional MRI of High-Level Vision



Assignments include a written essay, a paper critique, two class presentations, a term paper and class participation. All written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due. Please follow the following guidelines while working on your essays.

The Table below lists the Presentation topics.

Instructions for Paper Presentation

How to present a paper (PDF)

Instructions for Paper Critique

How to critically evaluate fMRI studies (PDF)

Instructions for Term Paper

How to write a review article and propose a novel experiment (PDF)

Instructions for Final Project

How to make presentations on experiment proposals and literature reviews (PDF)

Student Work

(PDF) (Courtesy of MIT student. Used with permission.)


Functional organization of the ventral visual pathway

Controversies concerning this organization

FMRI design/methods

How to critique an fMRI paper

2 - 4 page essay due at the beginning of class

(Essay details: Read Talbot, Margaret. “Duped.” New Yorker, July 2007 and then address whether and how you could test if fMRI can be used as a lie detector in the real world, what conditions would you need to test, could such an experiment actually be run, and how might you do it?)


Visual recognition, object shape, and the lateral occipital complex (LOC)

Basic neuroanatomy of the visual system

Written Critique of an fMRI Paper Due at the Beginning of Class

Bartels, A., and S. Zeki. “The Neural Basis of Romantic Love.” Neuroreport 11, no. 17 (2000): 3829-34.

Some key Questions:

  1. What is entailed computationally in visual object recognition by shape, and why are computers so bad at it?
  2. What is the role of the lateral occipital complex (LOC) in object recognition and shape perception?
  3. What kinds of neural representations of visual objects are extracted in the “ventral visual pathway” en route to object recognition?
4 Scene perception and the PPA

Class presentations

Janzen, G., and M. Van Turennout. “Selective Neural Representation of Objects Relevant for Navigation.” Nat Neurosci 7, no. 6 (June 2004): 673-7.

Epstein, R. A., J. S. Higgins, and S. L. Thompson-Schill. “Learning Places from Views: Variation in Scene Processing as a Function of Experience and Navigational Ability.” J Cogn Neurosci 17, no. 1 (2005): 73-83.

Steeves, J. K., G. K. Humphrey, J. C. Culham, R. S. Menon, A. D. Milner, and M. A. Goodale. “Behavioral and Neuroimaging Evidence for a Contribution of Color and Texture Information to Scene Classification in a Patient with Visual form Agnosia.” J Cogn Neurosci 16, no. 6 (2004): 955-65.

Epstein, R. A., W. E. Parker, and A. M. Feiler. “Where Am I Now? Distinct Roles for Parahippocampal and Retrosplenial Cortices in Place Recognition.” J Neurosci 27, no. 23 (2007): 6141-9.

Some key questions:

  1. Do brain regions exist that are specifically engaged in processing scenes visually (e.g., the parahipocampal place area or PPA)?
  2. Is the PPA engaged in recognizing scenes, in determining how to navigate within them, or in some other process?
  3. What is the relationship between scene perception and recognition? object perception and recognition?
5 Face processing and the FFA

Class presentations

Avidan, G., U. Hasson, R. Malach, and M. Behrmann. “Detailed Exploration of Face-related Processing in Congenital Prosopagnosia: 2. Functional Neuroimaging Findings.” J Cogn Neurosci 17, no. 7 (2005): 1150-67.

Schiltz, C., and B. Rossion. “Faces are Represented Holistically in the Human Occipito-Temporal Cortex.” Neuroimage 32 (2006): 1385-1394.

Gauthier, I., P. Skudlarski, J. C. Gore., and A. W. Anderson. “Expertise for Cars and Birds Recruits Brain Areas Involved in Face Recognition.” Nature Neuroscience 3, no. 2 (2000): 191-197.

Rotshtein, P., R. N. Henson, A. Treves, and R. J. Driver. “Morphing Marilyn into Maggie Dissociates Physical and Identity Face Representations in the Brain.” Nat Neurosci 8, no. 1 (2005): 107-13.

6 Visual attention

Class presentations

McMains, S. A., and D. C. Somers. “Multiple Spotlights of Attentional Selection in Human Visual Cortex.” Neuron 42, no. 4 (May 2004): 677-86.

Murray, S. O., and E. Wojciulik. “Attention Increases Neural Selectivity in the Human Lateral Occipital Complex.” Nat Neurosci 7, no. 1 (Epub November 2003): 70-4.

Muller, N. G., and A. Kleinschmidt. “Dynamic Interaction of Object - and Space-based Attention in Retinotopic Visual Areas.” J Neurosci 23 (2003): 9812-6.

Murray, S. O., and S. He. “Contrast Invariance in the Human Lateral Occipital Complex Depends on Attention.” Curr Biol 16, no. 6 (2006): 606-11.

Corbetta, M., M. J. Kincade, C. Lewis, A. Z. Snyder, and A. Sapir. “Neural Basis and Recovery of Spatial Attention Deficits in Spatial Neglect.” Nat Neurosci 8, no. 11 (November 2005): 1603-10.

7 Visual awareness

Class presentations

Morris, J. P., K. A. Pelphrey, and G. McCarthy. “Face Processing Without Awareness in the Right Fusiform Gyrus.” Neuropsychologia 45 (2007): 3087-3091.

Fang, F., and S. He. “Cortical Responses to Invisible Objects in the Human Dorsal and Ventral Pathways.” Nat Neurosci 8, no. 10 (2005): 1380-5.

Pasley, B., L. Mayes, and R. Schultz. “Subcortical Discrimination of Unperceived Objects during Binocular Rivalry.” Neuron 42, no. 1 (April 2004): 163-72.

Marois, R., D. J. Yi, and M. M. Chun. “The Neural Fate of Consciously Perceived and Missed Events in the Attentional Blink.” Neuron 41 (2004): 465-72.

Dehaene, S., A. Jobert, L. Naccache, P. Ciuciu, J. B. Poline, D. Le Bihan, and L. Cohen. “Letter Binding and Invariant Recognition of Masked Words: Behavioral and Neuroimaging Evidence.” Psychol Sci 15 (2004): 307-13.

Tsushima, Y., Y. Sasaki Y, and T. Watanabe. “Greater Disruption due to Failure of Inhibitory Control on an Ambiguous Distractor.” Science 314 (2006): 1786-8.

8 The dorsal/parietal pathway: visual attention, visually guided action and number including visually guided action, number, attention, response selection, etc. Term paper outline due in class
9 In second half of class (if we don’t get to this topic earlier): classification methods, brain reading Midterm
11 Student presentations Project presentations and discussion
12 Student presentations (cont.) Project presentations and discussion

In class we will have one or more guest lectures, e.g.:

  • Evelina Fedorenko, on Neuroimaging of Language
  • Rebecca Saxe, on Neuroimaging of Theory of Mind
  • Basic MR Physics (if you are interested)

Final term papers due

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2007
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Presentation Assignments