Publications by authors named "Vaidehi S Natu"

13 Publications

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Sulcal Depth in the Medial Ventral Temporal Cortex Predicts the Location of a Place-Selective Region in Macaques, Children, and Adults.

Cereb Cortex 2021 Jan;31(1):48-61

Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

The evolution and development of anatomical-functional relationships in the cerebral cortex is of major interest in neuroscience. Here, we leveraged the fact that a functional region selective for visual scenes is located within a sulcus in the medial ventral temporal cortex (VTC) in both humans and macaques to examine the relationship between sulcal depth and place selectivity in the medial VTC across species and age groups. To do so, we acquired anatomical and functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in 9 macaques, 26 human children, and 28 human adults. Our results revealed a strong structural-functional coupling between sulcal depth and place selectivity across age groups and species in which selectivity was strongest near the deepest sulcal point (the sulcal pit). Interestingly, this coupling between sulcal depth and place selectivity strengthens from childhood to adulthood in humans. Morphological analyses suggest that the stabilization of sulcal-functional coupling in adulthood may be due to sulcal deepening and areal expansion with age as well as developmental differences in cortical curvature at the pial, but not the white matter surfaces. Our results implicate sulcal features as functional landmarks in high-level visual cortex and highlight that sulcal-functional relationships in the medial VTC are preserved between macaques and humans despite differences in cortical folding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhaa203DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7727388PMC
January 2021

Apparent thinning of human visual cortex during childhood is associated with myelination.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 10 23;116(41):20750-20759. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.

Human cortex appears to thin during childhood development. However, the underlying microstructural mechanisms are unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), quantitative MRI (qMRI), and diffusion MRI (dMRI) in children and adults, we tested what quantitative changes occur to gray and white matter in ventral temporal cortex (VTC) from childhood to adulthood, and how these changes relate to cortical thinning. T relaxation time from qMRI and mean diffusivity (MD) from dMRI provide independent and complementary measurements of microstructural properties of gray and white matter tissue. In face- and character-selective regions in lateral VTC, T and MD decreased from age 5 to adulthood in mid and deep cortex, as well as in their adjacent white matter. T reduction also occurred longitudinally in children's brain regions. T and MD decreases 1) were consistent with tissue growth related to myelination, which we verified with adult histological myelin stains, and 2) were correlated with apparent cortical thinning. In contrast, in place-selective cortex in medial VTC, we found no development of T or MD after age 5, and thickness was related to cortical morphology. These findings suggest that lateral VTC likely becomes more myelinated from childhood to adulthood, affecting the contrast of MR images and, in turn, the apparent gray-white boundary. These findings are important because they suggest that VTC does not thin during childhood but instead gets more myelinated. Our data have broad ramifications for understanding both typical and atypical brain development using advanced in vivo quantitative measurements and clinical conditions implicating myelin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904931116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6789966PMC
October 2019

Stimulation of the Posterior Cingulate Cortex Impairs Episodic Memory Encoding.

J Neurosci 2019 09 29;39(36):7173-7182. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, and.

Neuroimaging experiments implicate the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) in episodic memory processing, making it a potential target for responsive neuromodulation strategies outside of the hippocampal network. However, causal evidence for the role that PCC plays in memory encoding is lacking. In human female and male participants ( = 17) undergoing seizure mapping, we investigated functional properties of the PCC using deep brain stimulation (DBS) and stereotactic electroencephalography. We used a verbal free recall paradigm in which the PCC was stimulated during presentation of half of the study lists, whereas no stimulation was applied during presentation of the remaining lists. We investigated whether stimulation affected memory and modulated hippocampal activity. Results revealed four main findings. First, stimulation during episodic memory encoding impaired subsequent free recall, predominantly for items presented early in the study lists. Second, PCC stimulation increased hippocampal gamma-band power. Third, stimulation-induced hippocampal gamma power predicted the magnitude of memory impairment. Fourth, functional connectivity between the hippocampus and PCC predicted the strength of the stimulation effect on memory. Our findings offer causal evidence implicating the PCC in episodic memory encoding. Importantly, the results indicate that stimulation targeted outside of the temporal lobe can modulate hippocampal activity and impact behavior. Furthermore, measures of connectivity between brain regions within a functional network can be informative in predicting behavioral effects of stimulation. Our findings have significant implications for developing therapies to treat memory disorders and cognitive impairment using DBS. Cognitive impairment and memory loss are critical public health challenges. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising tool for developing strategies to ameliorate memory disorders by targeting brain regions involved in mnemonic processing. Using DBS, our study sheds light on the lesser-known role of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) in memory encoding. Stimulating the PCC during encoding impairs subsequent recall memory. The degree of impairment is predicted by stimulation-induced hippocampal gamma oscillations and functional connectivity between PCC and hippocampus. Our findings provide the first causal evidence implicating PCC in memory encoding and highlight the PCC as a favorable target for neuromodulation strategies using connectivity measures to predict stimulation effects. This has significant implications for developing therapies for memory diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0698-19.2019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6733540PMC
September 2019

Neural adaptation to faces reveals racial outgroup homogeneity effects in early perception.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 07 1;116(29):14532-14537. Epub 2019 Jul 1.

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;

A hallmark of intergroup biases is the tendency to individuate members of one's own group but process members of other groups categorically. While the consequences of these biases for stereotyping and discrimination are well-documented, their early perceptual underpinnings remain less understood. Here, we investigated the neural mechanisms of this effect by testing whether high-level visual cortex is differentially tuned in its sensitivity to variation in own-race versus other-race faces. Using a functional MRI adaptation paradigm, we measured White participants' habituation to blocks of White and Black faces that parametrically varied in their groupwise similarity. Participants showed a greater tendency to individuate own-race faces in perception, showing both greater release from adaptation to unique identities and increased sensitivity in the adaptation response to physical difference among faces. These group differences emerge in the tuning of early face-selective cortex and mirror behavioral differences in the memory and perception of own- versus other-race faces. Our results suggest that biases for other-race faces emerge at some of the earliest stages of sensory perception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1822084116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6642392PMC
July 2019

Development of population receptive fields in the lateral visual stream improves spatial coding amid stable structural-functional coupling.

Neuroimage 2019 03 1;188:59-69. Epub 2018 Dec 1.

Psychology Department, Stanford University, CA, 94305, USA; Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University, CA, 94305, USA.

Human visual cortex encompasses more than a dozen visual field maps across three major processing streams. One of these streams is the lateral visual stream, which extends from V1 to lateral-occipital (LO) and temporal-occipital (TO) visual field maps and plays a prominent role in shape as well as motion perception. However, it is unknown if and how population receptive fields (pRFs) in the lateral visual stream develop from childhood to adulthood, and what impact this development may have on spatial coding. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and pRF modeling in school-age children and adults to investigate the development of the lateral visual stream. Our data reveal four main findings: 1) The topographic organization of eccentricity and polar angle maps of the lateral stream is stable after age five. 2) In both age groups there is a reliable relationship between eccentricity map transitions and cortical folding: the middle occipital gyrus predicts the transition between the peripheral representation of LO and TO maps. 3) pRFs in LO and TO maps undergo differential development from childhood to adulthood, resulting in increasing coverage of the central visual field in LO and of the peripheral visual field in TO. 4) Model-based decoding shows that the consequence of pRF and visual field coverage development is improved spatial decoding from LO and TO distributed responses in adults vs. children. Together, these results explicate both the development and topography of the lateral visual stream. Our data show that the general structural-functional organization is laid out early in development, but fine-scale properties, such as pRF distribution across the visual field and consequently, spatial precision, become fine-tuned across childhood development. These findings advance understanding of the development of the human visual system from childhood to adulthood and provide an essential foundation for understanding developmental deficits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413531PMC
March 2019

The functional neuroanatomy of face perception: from brain measurements to deep neural networks.

Interface Focus 2018 Aug 15;8(4):20180013. Epub 2018 Jun 15.

Department of Psychology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

A central goal in neuroscience is to understand how processing within the ventral visual stream enables rapid and robust perception and recognition. Recent neuroscientific discoveries have significantly advanced understanding of the function, structure and computations along the ventral visual stream that serve as the infrastructure supporting this behaviour. In parallel, significant advances in computational models, such as hierarchical deep neural networks (DNNs), have brought machine performance to a level that is commensurate with human performance. Here, we propose a new framework using the ventral face network as a model system to illustrate how increasing the neural accuracy of present DNNs may allow researchers to test the computational benefits of the functional architecture of the human brain. Thus, the review (i) considers specific neural implementational features of the ventral face network, (ii) describes similarities and differences between the functional architecture of the brain and DNNs, and (iii) provides a hypothesis for the computational value of implementational features within the brain that may improve DNN performance. Importantly, this new framework promotes the incorporation of neuroscientific findings into DNNs in order to test the computational benefits of fundamental organizational features of the visual system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2018.0013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6015811PMC
August 2018

On object selectivity and the anatomy of the human fusiform gyrus.

Neuroimage 2018 06 20;173:604-609. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

pFs is a functionally-defined region in the human brain that is involved in recognizing objects. A recent trend refers to pFs as the posterior fusiform sulcus, which is a neuroanatomical structure that does not exist. Here, we correct this mistake. To achieve this goal, we first recount the original definitions of pFs and then review the identification of sulci within and surrounding the fusiform gyrus (FG) including the mid-fusiform sulcus (MFS), which is a tertiary sulcus within the FG. We highlight that tertiary sulci, such as the MFS, are often absent from brain atlases, which complicates the accurate localization of functional regions, as well as the understanding of structural-functional relationships in ventral temporal cortex (VTC). When considering the location of object-selective pFs from previously published data relative to the sulci surrounding the FG, as well as the MFS, we illustrate that (1) pFs spans several macroanatomical structures, which is consistent with the original definitions of pFs (Grill-Spector et al., 1999, 2000), and (2) the topological relationship between pFs and MFS has both stable and variable features. To prevent future confusion regarding the anatomical location of functional regions within VTC, as well as to complement tools that automatically identify sulci surrounding the FG, we provide a method to automatically identify the MFS in individual brains using FreeSurfer. Finally, we highlight the benefits of using cortical surface reconstructions in large datasets to identify and quantify tertiary sulci compared to classic dissection methods because the latter often fail to differentiate tertiary sulci from shallow surface indentations produced by veins and arteries. Altogether, we propose that the inclusion of definitions and labels for tertiary sulci in neuroanatomical atlases and neuroimaging software packages will enhance understanding of functional-structural relationships throughout the human brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.02.040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345577PMC
June 2018

Defining the most probable location of the parahippocampal place area using cortex-based alignment and cross-validation.

Neuroimage 2018 04 18;170:373-384. Epub 2017 Apr 18.

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States; Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States.

The parahippocampal place area (PPA) is a widely studied high-level visual region in the human brain involved in place and scene processing. The goal of the present study was to identify the most probable location of place-selective voxels in medial ventral temporal cortex. To achieve this goal, we first used cortex-based alignment (CBA) to create a probabilistic place-selective region of interest (ROI) from one group of 12 participants. We then tested how well this ROI could predict place selectivity in each hemisphere within a new group of 12 participants. Our results reveal that a probabilistic ROI (pROI) generated from one group of 12 participants accurately predicts the location and functional selectivity in individual brains from a new group of 12 participants, despite between subject variability in the exact location of place-selective voxels relative to the folding of parahippocampal cortex. Additionally, the prediction accuracy of our pROI is significantly higher than that achieved by volume-based Talairach alignment. Comparing the location of the pROI of the PPA relative to published data from over 500 participants, including data from the Human Connectome Project, shows a striking convergence of the predicted location of the PPA and the cortical location of voxels exhibiting the highest place selectivity across studies using various methods and stimuli. Specifically, the most predictive anatomical location of voxels exhibiting the highest place selectivity in medial ventral temporal cortex is the junction of the collateral and anterior lingual sulci. Methodologically, we make this pROI freely available (vpnl.stanford.edu/PlaceSelectivity), which provides a means to accurately identify a functional region from anatomical MRI data when fMRI data are not available (for example, in patient populations). Theoretically, we consider different anatomical and functional factors that may contribute to the consistent anatomical location of place selectivity relative to the folding of high-level visual cortex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.04.040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6330657PMC
April 2018

Development of Neural Sensitivity to Face Identity Correlates with Perceptual Discriminability.

J Neurosci 2016 10;36(42):10893-10907

Department of Psychology.

Face perception is subserved by a series of face-selective regions in the human ventral stream, which undergo prolonged development from childhood to adulthood. However, it is unknown how neural development of these regions relates to the development of face-perception abilities. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses of ventral occipitotemporal regions in children (ages, 5-12 years) and adults (ages, 19-34 years) when they viewed faces that parametrically varied in dissimilarity. Since similar faces generate lower responses than dissimilar faces due to fMRI adaptation, this design objectively evaluates neural sensitivity to face identity across development. Additionally, a subset of subjects participated in a behavioral experiment to assess perceptual discriminability of face identity. Our data reveal three main findings: (1) neural sensitivity to face identity increases with age in face-selective but not object-selective regions; (2) the amplitude of responses to faces increases with age in both face-selective and object-selective regions; and (3) perceptual discriminability of face identity is correlated with the neural sensitivity to face identity of face-selective regions. In contrast, perceptual discriminability is not correlated with the amplitude of response in face-selective regions or of responses of object-selective regions. These data suggest that developmental increases in neural sensitivity to face identity in face-selective regions improve perceptual discriminability of faces. Our findings significantly advance the understanding of the neural mechanisms of development of face perception and open new avenues for using fMRI adaptation to study the neural development of high-level visual and cognitive functions more broadly.

Significance Statement: Face perception, which is critical for daily social interactions, develops from childhood to adulthood. However, it is unknown what developmental changes in the brain lead to improved performance. Using fMRI in children and adults, we find that from childhood to adulthood, neural sensitivity to changes in face identity increases in face-selective regions. Critically, subjects' perceptual discriminability among faces is linked to neural sensitivity: participants with higher neural sensitivity in face-selective regions demonstrate higher perceptual discriminability. Thus, our results suggest that developmental increases in face-selective regions' sensitivity to face identity improve perceptual discrimination of faces. These findings significantly advance understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying the development of face perception and have important implications for assessing both typical and atypical development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1886-16.2016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5083016PMC
October 2016

Spatiotemporal changes in neural response patterns to faces varying in visual familiarity.

Neuroimage 2015 Mar 16;108:151-9. Epub 2014 Dec 16.

The University of Texas at Dallas, USA.

Increasing experience with a previously unfamiliar face improves human ability to recognize it in challenging and novel viewing conditions. Differential neural responses to familiar versus unfamiliar faces in multiple regions of the ventral-temporal and parietal cortex have been reported in previous work, but with limited attention to how behavioral and neural measures change with increasing familiarity. We examined changes in the spatial and temporal characteristics of neural response patterns elicited by faces that vary in their degree of visual familiarity. First, we developed a behavioral paradigm to familiarize participants to low-, medium-, and high-levels of familiarity with faces. Recognition of novel, naturalistic images of the learned individuals improved with increasing familiarity with faces. Next, a new set of participants learned faces using the behavioral paradigm, outside the fMRI scanner, and subsequently viewed blocks of whole-body images of the learned and novel people, inside the scanner. We found that the face-selective FFA and OFA, and a combination of the ventral-temporal areas (e.g., fusiform gyrus) and parietal areas (e.g., precuneus) contained patterns useful for classifying highly familiar versus unfamiliar faces. Classification along the temporal-sequence of the face blocks revealed an early separation of neural patterns elicited in response to highly familiar versus unfamiliar faces in the FFA and OFA, but not in other regions of interest. This indicates the potential for a rapid assessment of the "known versus unknown" status of faces in core face-selective regions of the brain. The present study provides a first look at the perceptual and neural correlates underlying experience gains with faces as they become familiar.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.12.027DOI Listing
March 2015

Dissociable neural patterns of facial identity across changes in viewpoint.

J Cogn Neurosci 2010 Jul;22(7):1570-82

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080, USA.

We examined the neural response patterns for facial identity independent of viewpoint and for viewpoint independent of identity. Neural activation patterns for identity and viewpoint were collected in an fMRI experiment. Faces appeared in identity-constant blocks, with variable viewpoint, and in viewpoint-constant blocks, with variable identity. Pattern-based classifiers were used to discriminate neural response patterns for all possible pairs of identities and viewpoints. To increase the likelihood of detecting distinct neural activation patterns for identity, we tested maximally dissimilar "face"-"antiface" pairs and normal face pairs. Neural response patterns for four of six identity pairs, including the "face"-"antiface" pairs, were discriminated at levels above chance. A behavioral experiment showed accord between perceptual and neural discrimination, indicating that the classifier tapped a high-level visual identity code. Neural activity patterns across a broad span of ventral temporal (VT) cortex, including fusiform gyrus and lateral occipital areas (LOC), were required for identity discrimination. For viewpoint, five of six viewpoint pairs were discriminated neurally. Viewpoint discrimination was most accurate with a broad span of VT cortex, but the neural and perceptual discrimination patterns differed. Less accurate discrimination of viewpoint, more consistent with human perception, was found in right posterior superior temporal sulcus, suggesting redundant viewpoint codes optimized for different functions. This study provides the first evidence that it is possible to dissociate neural activation patterns for identity and viewpoint independently.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2009.21312DOI Listing
July 2010

Category-specific cortical activity precedes retrieval during memory search.

Science 2005 Dec;310(5756):1963-6

Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Here we describe a functional magnetic resonance imaging study of humans engaged in memory search during a free recall task. Patterns of cortical activity associated with the study of three categories of pictures (faces, locations, and objects) were identified by a pattern-classification algorithm. The algorithm was used to track the reappearance of these activity patterns during the recall period. The reappearance of a given category's activity pattern correlates with verbal recalls made from that category and precedes the recall event by several seconds. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that category-specific activity is cueing the memory system to retrieve studied items.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1117645DOI Listing
December 2005

Place from time: Reconstructing position from a distributed representation of temporal context.

Neural Netw 2005 Nov 29;18(9):1150-62. Epub 2005 Sep 29.

Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-2340, USA.

The temporal context model (TCM) [. A distributed representation of temporal context. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 46(3), 269-299] was proposed to describe recency and associative effects observed in episodic recall. Episodic recall depends on an intact medial temporal lobe, a region of the brain that also supports a place code. Howard, Fotedar, Datey, and Hasselmo [. The temporal context model in spatial navigation and relational learning: Toward a common explanation of medial temporal lobe function across domains. Psychological Review, 112(1), 75-116] demonstrated that the leaky integrator that supports a gradually changing representation of temporal context in TCM is sufficient to describe properties of cells observed in ventromedial entorhinal cortex during spatial navigation if it is provided with input about the animal's current velocity. This representation of temporal context generates noisy place cells in the open field, unlike the clearly defined place cells observed in the hippocampus. Here we demonstrate that a reasonably accurate spatial representation can be extracted from temporal context with as few as eight cells, suggesting that the spatial precision observed in the place code in the hippocampus is not inconsistent with the input from a representation of temporal-spatial context in entorhinal cortex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neunet.2005.08.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1444898PMC
November 2005