According to modular models of cortical organization, many areas of the extrastriate cortex are dedicated to object categories. These models often assume an early processing stage for the detection of category membership. Can functional imaging isolate areas responsible for detection of members of a category, such as faces or letters? We consider whether responses in three different areas (two selective for faces and one selective for letters) support category detection. Activity in these areas habituates to the repeated presentation of one exemplar more than to the presentation of different exemplars of the same category, but only for the category for which the area is selective. Thus, these areas appear to play computational roles more complex than detection, processing stimuli at the individual level. Drawing from prior work, we suggest that face-selective areas may be involved in the perception of faces at the individual level, whereas letter-selective regions may be tuning themselves to font information in order to recognize letters more efficiently.

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