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Neuropsychologia. 2000;38(12):1616-25.

Neural substrates for the recognition of newly learned faces: a functional MRI study.

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  • 1Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, 113-0033, Tokyo, Japan.


Face recognition is critical to the appreciation of our social and physical relations. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to identify brain regions involved in the recognition of newly learned faces. Two experiments were conducted. Experiment 1 contrasted a fixation control task with a face recognition task in which subjects were exposed solely to previously viewed faces (all-target). Experiment 2 compared a fixation control with another face recognition task in which subjects were presented with both novel and viewed faces (half-target). Compared to the fixation control, the all-target face recognition was associated with activation in the bilateral occipital and occipitotemporal regions, whereas the half-target face recognition produced activation in the right parietal and prefrontal regions, in addition to the occipital and occipitotemporal. The all-target minus half-target comparison revealed significant activation in the bilateral fusiform gyrus, suggesting stronger fusiform activity during the all-target than the half-target face recognition. The half-target minus all-target comparison showed significant activation in the superior and inferior parietal lobules and several regions in the right frontal lobe. These findings demonstrated that the bilateral fusiform gyrus is involved, not only in face perception, but in a certain aspect of face recognition memory and that this aspect is related to the actual recognition of previously viewed faces rather than the processing of novel ones, which results are consistent with previous lesion work. The right parietal and frontal regions, in contrast, are differentially more associated with the processes related to the detection of novel faces or retrieval effort.

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