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Unformatted text preview: The Fusiform Face Area: A Module in Human Extrastriate Cortex Specialized for Face Perception Nancy Kanwisher, 1,2 Josh McDermott, 1,2 and Marvin M. Chun 2,3 1 Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, 2 Massachusetts General Hospital NMR Center, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, and 3 Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8205 Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found an area in the fusiform gyrus in 12 of the 15 subjects tested that was significantly more active when the subjects viewed faces than when they viewed assorted common objects. This face activation was used to define a specific region of interest individually for each subject, within which several new tests of face specificity were run. In each of five subjects tested, the predefined candidate face area also responded significantly more strongly to passive viewing of (1) intact than scrambled two-tone faces, (2) full front-view face photos than front-view photos of houses, and (in a different set of five subjects) (3) three-quarter-view face photos (with hair concealed) than pho- tos of human hands; it also responded more strongly during (4) a consecutive matching task performed on three-quarter-view faces versus hands. Our technique of running multiple tests applied to the same region defined functionally within individual subjects provides a solution to two common problems in func- tional imaging: (1) the requirement to correct for multiple sta- tistical comparisons and (2) the inevitable ambiguity in the interpretation of any study in which only two or three conditions are compared. Our data allow us to reject alternative accounts of the function of the fusiform face area (area FF) that appeal to visual attention, subordinate-level classification, or general processing of any animate or human forms, demonstrating that this region is selectively involved in the perception of faces. Key words: extrastriate cortex; face perception; functional MRI; fusiform gyrus; ventral visual pathway; object recognition Evidence from cognitive psychology (Yin, 1969; Bruce et al., 1991; Tanaka and Farah, 1993), computational vision (Turk and Pent- land, 1991), neuropsychology (Damasio et al., 1990; Behrmann et al., 1992), and neurophysiology (Desimone, 1991; Perrett et al., 1992) suggests that face and object recognition involve qualita- tively different processes that may occur in distinct brain areas. Single-unit recordings from the superior temporal sulcus (STS) in macaques have demonstrated neurons that respond selectively to faces (Gross et al., 1972; Desimone, 1991; Perrett et al., 1991). Evidence for a similar cortical specialization in humans has come from epilepsy patients with implanted subdural electrodes. In discrete portions of the fusiform and inferotemporal gyri, large N200 potentials have been elicited by faces but not by scrambled faces, cars, or butterflies (Ojemann et al., 1992; Allison et al.,faces, cars, or butterflies (Ojemann et al....
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