Cortical activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while human subjects viewed 12 stimulus colors and performed either a color-naming or diverted attention task. A forward model was used to extract lower dimensional neural color spaces from the high-dimensional fMRI responses. The neural color spaces in two visual areas, human ventral V4 (V4v) and VO1, exhibited clustering (greater similarity between activity patterns evoked by stimulus colors within a perceptual category, compared to betweencategory colors) for the color-naming task, but not for the diverted attention task. Response amplitudes and signal-to-noise ratios were higher in most visual cortical areas for color naming compared to diverted attention. But only in V4v and VO1 did the cortical representation of color change to a categorical color space. A model is presented that induces such a categorical representation by changing the response gains of subpopulations of color-selective neurons.
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