Functional dissociation of the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex in the direct and indirect retrieval of color features

Yan Wang, Jinghui Zhao, Jiongjiong Yang, Lin Ma, Sheng He, Xuchu Weng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies suggest that the storage/retrieval of object features is related to brain regions that are involved in the processing of these features. However, it remains unclear whether, and under what conditions, retrieving information about a feature reactivates the same region that specifically supports that feature's perception. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we compared brain activation in the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex during subjects performing a color perception task, and direct and indirect color retrieval tasks. After performing the color perception task to localize the regions responsible for color perception, subjects were intensively trained (outside of the scanner) to remember associations between colors and motion directions, and associations between colors and letters. Then, they were asked to perform two color retrieval tasks in the scanner, with stationary and gray scaled images as control stimuli. The results showed that the bilateral posterior occipito-temporal cortex was activated during the color perception task. When color information was retrieved by direct cues (motion direction), the same bilateral occipito-temporal region was activated. When color information was retrieved indirectly (judging whether a motion direction matched a letter by their associated colors), a region anterior to the color perception region in the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex was additionally activated. Our results provided evidence for the functional dissociation in the two subregions of the ventral occipito-temporal cortex during retrieval of color features: the posterior area might relate to perceptual features of color, while the anterior region might relate to the knowledge of associations with color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1553-1559
Number of pages7
JournalProgress in Natural Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30670674 ) and the Beijing Key Laboratory for Learning and Cognition .


  • Color perception
  • FMRI
  • Occipito-temporal cortex
  • Reactivation
  • Retrieval

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