Spatiotemporal neural dynamics of object recognition under uncertainty in humans

Yuan Hao Wu, Ella Podvalny, Biyu J. He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While there is a wealth of knowledge about core object recognition—our ability to recognize clear, high-contrast object images—how the brain accomplishes object recognition tasks under increased uncertainty remains poorly understood. We investigated the spatiotemporal neural dynamics underlying object recognition under increased uncertainty by combining MEG and 7 Tesla (7T) fMRI in humans during a threshold-level object recognition task. We observed an early, parallel rise of recognition-related signals across ventral visual and frontoparietal regions that preceded the emergence of category-related information. Recognition-related signals in ventral visual regions were best explained by a two-state representational format whereby brain activity bifurcated for recognized and unrecognized images. By contrast, recognition-related signals in frontopari-etal regions exhibited a reduced representational space for recognized images, yet with sharper category information. These results provide a spatiotemporally resolved view of neural activity supporting object recognition under uncertainty, revealing a pattern distinct from that underlying core object recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere84797
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an NIH grant to BJH (R01EY032085). The authors would like to thank Richard Hardstone and Max Levinson for useful discussions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.


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