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J Neurosci. 2010 Jun 30;30(26):8780-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1575-10.2010.

Selective attention modulates face-specific induced gamma oscillations recorded from ventral occipitotemporal cortex.

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Human Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8205, USA.


EEG studies from subdural electrodes have demonstrated a face-specific event-related potential (face-N200) recorded from human ventral occipitotemporal cortex. The insensitivity of face-N200 to task manipulations has supported the proposal that face-N200 reflects an initial obligatory response to faces. This result stands in striking contrast to results of neuroimaging studies that have demonstrated strong task sensitivity of the fusiform hemodynamic response evoked by faces, and thus has created a paradox in the face perception literature. We recorded field potentials directly from the cortical surface of 16 patients while they selectively attended to faces or houses. Here we report that face-specific gamma activity recorded at face-N200 sites is strongly modulated by selective attention, while face-N200 is not. Our results reconcile prior electrophysiological and hemodynamic studies of face perception, and suggest that attentional modulation of the face response follows an initial phase that is largely insensitive to attention.

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