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Cereb Cortex. 2010 Sep;20(9):2027-42. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhp272. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Face-identity change activation outside the face system: "release from adaptation" may not always indicate neuronal selectivity.

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  • 1Section on Functional Imaging Methods, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. marieke.mur@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Abstract

Face recognition is a complex cognitive process that requires distinguishable neuronal representations of individual faces. Previous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies using the "fMRI-adaptation" technique have suggested the existence of face-identity representations in face-selective regions, including the fusiform face area (FFA). Here, we present face-identity adaptation findings that are not well explained in terms of face-identity representations. We performed blood-oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI measurements, while participants viewed familiar faces that were shown repeatedly throughout the experiment. We found decreased activation for repeated faces in face-selective regions, as expected based on previous studies. However, we found similar effects in regions that are not face-selective, including the parahippocampal place area (PPA) and early visual cortex (EVC). These effects were present for exact-image (same view and lighting) as well as different-image (different view and/or lighting) repetition, but more widespread for exact-image repetition. Given the known functional properties of PPA and EVC, it appears unlikely that they contain domain-specific face-identity representations. Alternative interpretations include general attentional effects and carryover of activation from connected regions. These results remind us that fMRI stimulus-change effects can have a range of causes and do not provide conclusive evidence for a neuronal representation of the changed stimulus property.

PMID:
20051364
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2950811
Free PMC Article
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