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  1. The human medial temporal lobe (MTL) plays a crucial role in recognizing visual objects, a key cognitive function that relies on the formation of semantic representations. Nonetheless, it remains unknown how visual information of general objects is translated into semantic representations in the MTL. Furthermore, the debate about whether the human MTL is involved in perception has endured for a long time. To address these questions, we investigated three distinct models of neural object coding—semantic coding, axis-based feature coding, and region-based feature coding—in each subregion of the MTL, using high-resolution fMRI in two male and six female participants. Our findings revealed the presence of semantic coding throughout the MTL, with a higher prevalence observed in the parahippocampal cortex (PHC) and perirhinal cortex (PRC), while axis coding and region coding were primarily observed in the earlier regions of the MTL. Moreover, we demonstrated that voxels exhibiting axis coding supported the transition to region coding and contained information relevant to semantic coding. Together, by providing a detailed characterization of neural object coding schemes and offering a comprehensive summary of visual coding information for each MTL subregion, our results not only emphasize a clear role of the MTL in perceptual processing but also shed light on the translation of perception-driven representations of visual features into memory-driven representations of semantics along the MTL processing pathway.

    Significance StatementIn this study, we delved into the mechanisms underlying visual object recognition within the human medial temporal lobe (MTL), a pivotal region known for its role in the formation of semantic representations crucial for memory. In particular, the translation of visual information into semantic representations within the MTL has remained unclear, and the enduring debate regarding the involvement of the human MTL in perception has persisted. To address these questions, we comprehensively examined distinct neural object coding models across each subregion of the MTL, leveraging high-resolution fMRI. We also showed transition of information between object coding models and across MTL subregions. Our findings significantly contributes to advancing our understanding of the intricate pathway involved in visual object coding.

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  2. Abstract

    Processing facial expressions of emotion draws on a distributed brain network. In particular, judging ambiguous facial emotions involves coordination between multiple brain areas. Here, we applied multimodal functional connectivity analysis to achieve network-level understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual ambiguity in facial expressions. We found directional effective connectivity between the amygdala, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), and ventromedial PFC, supporting both bottom-up affective processes for ambiguity representation/perception and top-down cognitive processes for ambiguity resolution/decision. Direct recordings from the human neurosurgical patients showed that the responses of amygdala and dmPFC neurons were modulated by the level of emotion ambiguity, and amygdala neurons responded earlier than dmPFC neurons, reflecting the bottom-up process for ambiguity processing. We further found parietal-frontal coherence and delta-alpha cross-frequency coupling involved in encoding emotion ambiguity. We replicated the EEG coherence result using independent experiments and further showed modulation of the coherence. EEG source connectivity revealed that the dmPFC top-down regulated the activities in other brain regions. Lastly, we showed altered behavioral responses in neuropsychiatric patients who may have dysfunctions in amygdala-PFC functional connectivity. Together, using multimodal experimental and analytical approaches, we have delineated a neural network that underlies processing of emotion ambiguity.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Face perception is a fundamental aspect of human social interaction, yet most research on this topic has focused on single modalities and specific aspects of face perception. Here, we present a comprehensive multimodal dataset for examining facial emotion perception and judgment. This dataset includes EEG data from 97 unique neurotypical participants across 8 experiments, fMRI data from 19 neurotypical participants, single-neuron data from 16 neurosurgical patients (22 sessions), eye tracking data from 24 neurotypical participants, behavioral and eye tracking data from 18 participants with ASD and 15 matched controls, and behavioral data from 3 rare patients with focal bilateral amygdala lesions. Notably, participants from all modalities performed the same task. Overall, this multimodal dataset provides a comprehensive exploration of facial emotion perception, emphasizing the importance of integrating multiple modalities to gain a holistic understanding of this complex cognitive process. This dataset serves as a key missing link between human neuroimaging and neurophysiology literature, and facilitates the study of neuropsychiatric populations.

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  6. Abstract

    Motivated by the high-performance solid-state lithium batteries enabled by lithium superionic conductors, sodium superionic conductor materials have great potential to empower sodium batteries with high energy, low cost, and sustainability. A critical challenge lies in designing and discovering sodium superionic conductors with high ionic conductivities to enable the development of solid-state sodium batteries. Here, by studying the structures and diffusion mechanisms of Li-ion versus Na-ion conducting solids, we reveal the structural feature of face-sharing high-coordination sites for fast sodium-ion conductors. By applying this feature as a design principle, we discover a number of Na-ion conductors in oxides, sulfides, and halides. Notably, we discover a chloride-based family of Na-ion conductors NaxMyCl6(M = La–Sm) with UCl3-type structure and experimentally validate with the highest reported ionic conductivity. Our findings not only pave the way for the future development of sodium-ion conductors for sodium batteries, but also consolidate design principles of fast ion-conducting materials for a variety of energy applications.

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  7. Processing social information from faces is difficult for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it remains unclear whether individuals with ASD make high-level social trait judgments from faces in the same way as neurotypical individuals. Here, we comprehensively addressed this question using naturalistic face images and representatively sampled traits. Despite similar underlying dimensional structures across traits, online adult participants with self-reported ASD showed different judgments and reduced specificity within each trait compared with neurotypical individuals. Deep neural networks revealed that these group differences were driven by specific types of faces and differential utilization of features within a face. Our results were replicated in well-characterized in-lab participants and partially generalized to more controlled face images (a preregistered study). By investigating social trait judgments in a broader population, including individuals with neurodevelopmental variations, we found important theoretical implications for the fundamental dimensions, variations, and potential behavioral consequences of social cognition.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  8. It has been hypothesized that the ventral stream processing for object recognition is based on a mechanism called cortically local subspace untangling. A mathematical abstraction of object recognition by the visual cortex is how to untangle the manifolds associated with different object categories. Such a manifold untangling problem is closely related to the celebrated kernel trick in metric space. In this paper, we conjecture that there is a more general solution to manifold untangling in the topological space without artificially defining any distance metric. Geometrically, we can either embed a manifold in a higher-dimensional space to promote selectivity or flatten a manifold to promote tolerance. General strategies of both global manifold embedding and local manifold flattening are presented and connected with existing work on the untangling of image, audio, and language data. We also discuss the implications of untangling the manifold into motor control and internal representations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 31, 2024
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  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024