Prevailing hierarchical models propose that temporal processing capacity—the amount of information that a brain region processes in a unit time—decreases at higher stages in the ventral stream regardless of domain. However, it is unknown if temporal processing capacities are domain general or domain specific in human high-level visual cortex. Using a novel fMRI paradigm, we measured temporal capacities of functional regions in high-level visual cortex. Contrary to hierarchical models, our data reveal domain-specific processing capacities as follows: (1) regions processing information from different domains have differential temporal capacities within each stage of the visual hierarchy and (2) domain-specific regions display the same temporal capacity regardless of their position in the processing hierarchy. In general, character-selective regions have the lowest capacity, face- and place-selective regions have an intermediate capacity, and body-selective regions have the highest capacity. Notably, domain-specific temporal processing capacities are not apparent in V1 and have perceptual implications. Behavioral testing revealed that the encoding capacity of body images is higher than that of characters, faces, and places, and there is a correspondence between peak encoding rates and cortical capacities for characters and bodies. The present evidence supports a model in which the natural statistics of temporal information in the visual world may affect domain-specific temporal processing and encoding capacities. These findings suggest that the functional organization of high-level visual cortex may be constrained by temporal characteristics of stimuli in the natural world, and this temporal capacity is a characteristic of domain-specific networks in high-level visual cortex.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Visual stimuli bombard us at different rates every day. For example, words and scenes are typically stationary and vary at slow rates. In contrast, bodies are dynamic and typically change at faster rates. Using a novel fMRI paradigm, we measured temporal processing capacities of functional regions in human high-level visual cortex. Contrary to prevailing theories, we find that different regions have different processing capacities, which have behavioral implications. In general, character-selective regions have the lowest capacity, face- and place-selective regions have an intermediate capacity, and body-selective regions have the highest capacity. These results suggest that temporal processing capacity is a characteristic of domain-specific networks in high-level visual cortex and contributes to the segregation of cortical regions.