Investigating object representations during change detection in human extrastriate cortex

D. Samuel Schwarzkopf, Juha Silvanto, Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, Geraint Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Detecting a change in a visual stimulus is particularly difficult when it is accompanied by a visual disruption such as a saccade or flicker. In order to say whether a stimulus has changed across such a disruption, some neural trace must persist. Here we investigated whether two different regions of the human extrastriate visual cortex contain neuronal populations encoding such a trace. Participants viewed a stimulus that included various objects and a short blank period (flicker) made it difficult to distinguish whether an object in the stimulus had changed or not. By applying transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) during the visual disruption we show that the lateral occipital (LO) cortex, but not the occipital face area, contains a sustained representation of a visual stimulus. TMS over LO improved the sensitivity and response bias for detecting changes by selectively reducing false alarms. We suggest that TMS enhanced the initial object representation and thus boosted neural events associated with object repetition. Our findings show that neuronal signals in the human LO cortex carry a sustained neural trace that is necessary for detecting the repetition of a stimulus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1780-1787
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Change detection
  • Extrastriate cortex
  • Object representation
  • Repetition
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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