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Curr Biol. 2014 Sep 8;24(17):2066-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.060. Epub 2014 Aug 14.

Combined TMS and FMRI reveal dissociable cortical pathways for dynamic and static face perception.

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Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute for Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, University College London, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.


Faces contain structural information, for identifying individuals, as well as changeable information, which can convey emotion and direct attention. Neuroimaging studies reveal brain regions that exhibit preferential responses to invariant [1, 2] or changeable [3-5] facial aspects but the functional connections between these regions are unknown. We addressed this issue by causally disrupting two face-selective regions with thetaburst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TBS) and measuring the effects of this disruption in local and remote face-selective regions with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants were scanned, over two sessions, while viewing dynamic or static faces and objects. During these sessions, TBS was delivered over the right occipital face area (rOFA) or right posterior superior temporal sulcus (rpSTS). Disruption of the rOFA reduced the neural response to both static and dynamic faces in the downstream face-selective region in the fusiform gyrus. In contrast, the response to dynamic and static faces was doubly dissociated in the rpSTS. Namely, disruption of the rOFA reduced the response to static but not dynamic faces, while disruption of the rpSTS itself reduced the response to dynamic but not static faces. These results suggest that dynamic and static facial aspects are processed via dissociable cortical pathways that begin in early visual cortex, a conclusion inconsistent with current models of face perception [6-9].

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