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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jan;93(1):603-8. Epub 2004 Aug 4.

Selectivity for the human body in the fusiform gyrus.

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School of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Wales, Bangor, United Kingdom LL57 2AS.


Functional neuroimaging studies have revealed human brain regions, notably in the fusiform gyrus, that respond selectively to images of faces as opposed to other kinds of objects. Here we use fMRI to show that the mid-fusiform gyrus responds with nearly the same level of selectivity to images of human bodies without faces, relative to tools and scenes. In a group-average analysis (n = 22), the fusiform activations identified by contrasting faces versus tools and bodies versus tools are very similar. Analyses of within-subjects regions of interest, however, show that the peaks of the two activations occupy close but distinct locations. In a second experiment, we find that the body-selective fusiform region, but not the face-selective region, responds more to stick figure depictions of bodies than to scrambled controls. This result further distinguishes the two foci and confirms that the body-selective response generalizes to abstract image formats. These results challenge accounts of the mid-fusiform gyrus that focus solely on faces and suggest that this region contains multiple distinct category-selective neural representations.

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