High temporal resolution decoding of object position and category

Thomas A. Carlson*, Hinze Hogendoorn, Ryota Kanai, Juraj Mesik, Jeremy Turret

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


We effortlessly and seemingly instantaneously recognize thousands of objects, although we rarely-if ever-see the same image of an object twice. The retinal image of an object can vary by context, size, viewpoint, illumination, and location. The present study examined how the visual system abstracts object category across variations in retinal location. In three experiments, participants viewed images of objects presented to different retinal locations while brain activity was recorded using magnetoencephalography (MEG). A pattern classifier was trained to recover the stimulus position (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) and category (Experiment 3) from the recordings. Using this decoding approach, we show that an object's location in the visual field can be recovered in high temporal resolution (5 ms) and with sufficient fidelity to capture topographic organization in visual areas. Experiment 3 showed that an object's category could be recovered from the recordings as early as 135 ms after the onset of the stimulus and that category decoding generalized across retinal location (i.e., position invariance). Our experiments thus show that the visual system rapidly constructs a category representation for objects that is invariant to position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Decoding
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Object recognition
  • Pattern classification
  • Topographic organization
  • Translation invariance


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