Texture provides crucial information about the category or identity of a scene. Nonetheless, not much is known about how the texture information in a scene is represented in the brain. Previous studies have shown that the parahippocampal place area (PPA), a scene-selective part of visual cortex, responds to simple patches of texture ensemble. However, in natural scenes textures exist in spatial context within a scene. Here we tested two hypotheses that make different predictions on how textures within a scene context are represented in the PPA. The Texture-Only hypothesis suggests that the PPA represents texture ensemble (i.e., the kind of texture) as is, irrespective of its location in the scene. On the other hand, the Texture and Location hypothesis suggests that the PPA represents texture and its location within a scene (e.g., ceiling or wall) conjointly. We tested these two hypotheses across two experiments, using different but complementary methods. In experiment 1, by using multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and representational similarity analysis, we found that the representational similarity of the PPA activation patterns was significantly explained by the Texture-Only hypothesis but not by the Texture and Location hypothesis. In experiment 2, using a repetition suppression paradigm, we found no repetition suppression for scenes that had the same texture ensemble but differed in location (support-ing the Texture and Location hypothesis). On the basis of these results, we propose a framework that reconciles contrasting results from MVPA and repetition suppression and draw conclusions about how texture is represented in the PPA. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study investigates how the parahippocampal place area (PPA) represents texture information within a scene context. We claim that texture is represented in the PPA at multiple levels: the texture ensemble information at the across-voxel level and the conjoint information of texture and its location at the within-voxel level. The study proposes a working hypothesis that reconciles contrasting results from multivoxel pattern analysis and repetition suppression, suggesting that the methods are complementary to each other but not necessarily interchangeable.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by National Eye Institute Grant R01 EY-026042 to S. Park.
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