Much of what is known about the timing of visual processing in the brain is inferred from intracranial studies in monkeys, with human data limited to mainly noninvasive methods with lower spatial resolution. Here, we estimated visual onset latencies from electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings in a patient who was implanted with 112 subdural electrodes, distributed across the posterior cortex of the right hemisphere, for presurgical evaluation of intractable epilepsy. Functional MRI prior to surgery was used to determine boundaries of visual areas. The patient was presented with images of objects from several categories. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were calculated across all categories excluding targets, and statistically reliable onset latencies were determined, using a bootstrapping procedure over the single trial baseline activity in individual electrodes. The distribution of onset latencies broadly reflected the known hierarchy of visual areas, with the earliest cortical responses in primary visual cortex, and higher areas showing later responses. A clear exception to this pattern was a robust, statistically reliable and spatially localized, very early response, on the bank of the posterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The response in the IPS started nearly simultaneously with responses detected in peristriate visual areas, around 60 ms poststimulus onset. Our results support the notion of early visual processing in the posterior parietal lobe, not respecting traditional hierarchies, and give direct evidence for onset times of visual responses across the human cortex.
Human posterior parietal cortex responds to visual stimuli as early as peristriate occipital cortex
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