Brain breaks down vision into color, shape

Nov. 22, 2010 at 4:38 PM
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NASHVILLE, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A brain area critical to vision has regions that respond separately to color and to shape, U.S. researchers say, furthering our understanding of perception.

Vanderbilt University researchers found though these regions are physically separate, they work together to process visual information, reported.

"In vision, objects are defined by both their shape and their surface properties, such as color and brightness," Anna Roe, professor of psychology, said.

"For example, to identify a red apple, your visual system must process both the shape of the apple and its color," she said.

"Our study showed that in V4, which is a brain area that plays a role in visual object recognition, there is significant segregation of color-brightness and shape processing regions," she said.

The researchers say the separate regions may reflect groups of neurons processing more complex aspects of color and form, such as integrating different contours of the same color, to achieve overall shape perception.

"Functional segregation does not mean that shape and surface information do not interact. What it means is that there are distinct circuits for color versus shape," Roe said.

The research was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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