The neurons that mistook a hat for a face

Michael J. Arcaro, Carlos Ponce, Margaret Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Despite evidence that context promotes the visual recognition of objects, decades of research have led to the pervasive notion that the object processing pathway in primate cortex consists of multiple areas that each process the intrinsic features of a few particular categories (e.g. faces, bodies, hands, objects, and scenes). Here we report that such category-selective neurons do not in fact code individual categories in isolation but are also sensitive to object relationships that reflect statistical regularities of the experienced environment. We show by direct neuronal recording that face-selective neurons respond not just to an image of a face, but also to parts of an image where contextual cues—for example a body—indicate a face ought to be, even if what is there is not a face.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53798
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
StatePublished - Jun 2020


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