Neuronal Function in the Cortical Face Perception Network

Neuronal Function in the Cortical Face Perception Network

Bin Wang (Okayama University, Japan), Tianyi Yan (Okayama University, Japan & Beijing Institute of Technology, China) and Jinglong Wu (Okayama University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2113-8.ch018
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Abstract

Face perception is considered the most developed visual perceptual skill in humans. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have graphically illustrated that multiple regions exhibit a stronger neural response to faces than to other visual object categories, which were specialized for face processing. These regions are in the lateral side of the fusiform gyrus, the “fusiform face area” or FFA, in the inferior occipital gyri, the “occipital face area” or OFA, and in the superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). These regions are supposed to perform the visual analysis of faces and appear to participate differentially in different types of face perception. An important question is how faces are represented within these areas. In this chapter, the authors review the function, interaction, and topography of these regions relevant to face perception. They also discuss the human neural systems that mediate face perception and attempt to show some research dictions for face perception and neural representations.
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The Ananatomical Localization Of Face Perception

Face perception is mediated by a distributed neural system in the human brain, comprised of multiple bilateral regions. Early fMRI studies defined the face-selective regions using a contrast of faces greater than scrambled images and letter strings (Gauthier et al., 2000; Puce et al., 1996), but they are now more commonly defined using a contrast of faces greater than a diverse range of non-face category images such as objects(Grill-Spector et al., 2004; Levy et al., 2001), or both objects and scenes(Large et al., 2008). The core of the human neural system for face perception consists of three bilateral regions in the occipitotemporal visual extrastriate cortex. The results from a conventional functional localizer in one participant using a contrast of faces greater than houses, common objects and phase scramble objects are shown in (Figure 1). These regions are in the lateral side of the mid-fusiform gyrus, the “fusiform face area” or FFA (Kanwisher et al., 1997), in the inferior occipital gyri, the “occipital face area”, OFA (Kadosh et al., 2011), and in the superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) (Turk-Browne et al., 2010). These regions are presumed to perform the visual analysis of faces and appear to participate differentially in different types of face perception.

Figure 1.

Face-selective regions in one representative subject. Face-selective regions (yellow) were defined as regions that respond more strongly to faces than houses, cars and novel objects (P< 0.001)

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The Role Of The Face Area In Face Perception

Three regions in the visual extrastriate cortex have been found as the core of the human neural system for face perception. These regions participate in different aspects of face perception (Haxby et al., 2001). In this part, we will review the neuronal function of each face-selective area.

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