Abstract

A view-invariant representation of objects in the brain would have many computational advantages. Here we describe a population of single neurons in the temporal visual cortex (IT) that have view-invariant representations of familiar objects. Ten real plastic objects were placed in the monkeys' home cages for a period of time before neurophysiological experiments in which neuronal responses were measured to four views of each object. The macaques performed a visual fixation task, and had never been trained in object discrimination. The majority of the visual neurons recorded were responsive to some views of some objects and/or to the control stimuli, as would be expected from previous studies. However, a small subset of these neurons were responsive to all views of one or more of the objects, providing evidence that these neurons were coding for objects, rather than simply for individual views or visual features within the image. This result was confirmed by information theoretic analyses, which showed that the neurons provided information about which object was being seen, independently of the view. The coding scheme was shown to be sparse distributed, with relatively independent information being provided by the different neurons. Hypotheses about how these view-invariant cells are formed are described.