The Neural Correlates of Within Category Competition for Visual Representation
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Electroencephalography (EEG) was used to study the mechanisms of categorical perception in neurologically-normal participants. Inferring from previous studies, the N1 component of the event related potential (ERP) was explored in search of evidence of competition in the brain for visual representation. The amplitude of the N1 component may be reduced when an object is presented visually in the context of other objects of the same perceptual category. Being able to identify competition that occurs within categories of objects and not in-between objects provides a novel and powerful tool to study categorization in the intact brain. In this study, stimuli from different object categories (shoes, bonsai trees, and butterflies) were presented in the context of either objects from the same category, objects from different categories, or non-object images. The results show that there is a significant difference between the same flanker conditions and the scrambled flanker conditions which provides evidence to suggest that specific pools of neurons code for each specific categories of objects. The methods described in this study may be used in future studies to investigate categorization using competition which relieves the requirement of depending on visual agnosia patients to study competition.