Image Statistics and the Representation of Material Properties in the Visual Cortex
We explored perceived material properties (roughness, texturedness, and hardness) with a novel approach that compares perception, image statistics and brain activation, as measured with fMRI. We initially asked participants to rate 84 material images with respect to the above mentioned properties, and then scanned 15 of the participants with fMRI ... while they viewed the material images. The images were analyzed with a set of image statistics capturing their spatial frequency and texture properties. Linear classifiers were then applied to the image statistics as well as the voxel patterns of visually responsive voxels and early visual areas to discriminate between images with high and low perceptual ratings. Roughness and texturedness could be classified above chance level based on image statistics. Roughness and texturedness could also be classified based on the brain activation patterns. Importantly, the agreement in classification based on image statistics and brain activation was also above chance level. Our results show that information about visual material properties is to a large degree contained in low-level image statistics, and that these image statistics are also partially reflected in brain activity patterns induced by the perception of material images.