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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59886. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059886. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

The hierarchical brain network for face recognition.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.

Abstract

Numerous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have identified multiple cortical regions that are involved in face processing in the human brain. However, few studies have characterized the face-processing network as a functioning whole. In this study, we used fMRI to identify face-selective regions in the entire brain and then explore the hierarchical structure of the face-processing network by analyzing functional connectivity among these regions. We identified twenty-five regions mainly in the occipital, temporal and frontal cortex that showed a reliable response selective to faces (versus objects) across participants and across scan sessions. Furthermore, these regions were clustered into three relatively independent sub-networks in a face-recognition task on the basis of the strength of functional connectivity among them. The functionality of the sub-networks likely corresponds to the recognition of individual identity, retrieval of semantic knowledge and representation of emotional information. Interestingly, when the task was switched to object recognition from face recognition, the functional connectivity between the inferior occipital gyrus and the rest of the face-selective regions were significantly reduced, suggesting that this region may serve as an entry node in the face-processing network. In sum, our study provides empirical evidence for cognitive and neural models of face recognition and helps elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying face recognition at the network level.

PMID:
23527282
PMCID:
PMC3603994
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0059886
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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