Regions in the human Lateral Occipital Complex (LOC) show fMRI responses to illusory surfaces. We show that the LOC activation is due to the globally completed region and occurs even when the region is not bounded by illusory contours (ICs). Kanizsa-type stimuli were modified by rounding the corners of the "pacmen" inducers and misaligning them slightly. The impression of an enclosed, salient region (SR) remained, although ICs were no longer perceived (psychophysical data). fMRI activity was elevated for both the IC and SR stimuli, compared to their control stimuli. The LOC response to salient regions may be the result of fast but crude region-based segmentation processes, which are useful for selecting parts of cluttered images for more detailed, computationally intensive processing.
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