Abstract

Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to investigate whether retrieving information about a specific object attribute requires reactivation of brain areas that mediate perception of that attribute. During separate PET scans, subjects passively viewed colored and equiluminant gray-scale Mondrians, named colored and achromatic objects, named the color of colored objects, and generated color names associated with achromatic objects. Color perception was associated with activations in the lingual and fusiform gyri of the occipital lobes, consistent with previous neuroimaging and human lesion studies. Retrieving information about object color (generating color names for achromatic objects relative to naming achromatic objects) activated the left inferior temporal, left frontal, and left posterior parietal cortices, replicating previous findings from this laboratory. When subjects generated color names for achromatic objects relative to the low-level baseline of viewing gray-scale Mondrians, additional activations in the left fusi-form/lateral occipital region were detected. However, these activations were lateral to the occipital regions associated with color perception and identical to occipital regions activated when subjects simply named achromatic objects relative to the same low-level baseline. This suggests that the occipital activa-tions associated with retrieving color information were due to the perception of object form rather than to the top-down influence of brain areas that mediate color perception. Taken together, these results indicate that retrieving previously acquired information about an object's typical color does not require reactivation of brain regions that subserve color perception.

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