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Brain Topogr. 2009 Sep;22(2):83-96. doi: 10.1007/s10548-009-0086-5. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

An investigation of the relationship between fMRI and ERP source localized measurements of brain activity during face processing.

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Department of Radiology, University of Washington, 1100 NE 45th Street, Suite 555, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA.


Brain activity patterns during face processing have been extensively explored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERPs). ERP source localization adds a spatial dimension to the ERP time series recordings, which allows for a more direct comparison and integration with fMRI findings. The goals for this study were (1) to compare the spatial descriptions of neuronal activity during face processing obtained with fMRI and ERP source localization using low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA), and (2) to use the combined information from source localization and fMRI to explore how the temporal sequence of brain activity during face processing is summarized in fMRI activation maps. fMRI and high-density ERP data were acquired in separate sessions for 17 healthy adult males for a face and object processing task. LORETA statistical maps for the comparison of viewing faces and viewing houses were coregistered and compared to fMRI statistical maps for the same conditions. The spatial locations of face processing-sensitive activity measured by fMRI and LORETA were found to overlap in a number of areas including the bilateral fusiform gyri, the right superior, middle and inferior temporal gyri, and the bilateral precuneus. Both the fMRI and LORETA solutions additionally demonstrated activity in regions that did not overlap. fMRI and LORETA statistical maps of face processing-sensitive brain activity were found to converge spatially primarily at LORETA solution latencies that were within 18 ms of the N170 latency. The combination of data from these techniques suggested that electrical brain activity at the latency of the N170 is highly represented in fMRI statistical maps.

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