Article

The Neural Basis of the Behavioral Face-Inversion Effect

McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Current Biology (Impact Factor: 9.92). 01/2006; 15(24):2256-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.10.072
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Two of the most robust markers for "special" face processing are the behavioral face-inversion effect (FIE)-the disproportionate drop in recognition of upside-down (inverted) stimuli relative to upright faces-and the face-selective fMRI response in the fusiform face area (FFA). However, the relationship between these two face-selective markers is unknown. Here we report that the behavioral FIE is closely associated with the fMRI response in the FFA, but not in other face-selective or object-selective regions. The FFA and the face-selective region in the superior temporal sulcus (f_STS), but not the occipital face-selective region (OFA), showed a higher response to upright than inverted faces. However, only in the FFA was this fMRI-FIE positively correlated across subjects with the behavioral FIE. Second, the FFA, but not the f_STS, showed greater neural sensitivity to differences between faces when they were upright than inverted, suggesting a possible neural mechanism for the behavioral FIE. Although a similar trend was found in the occipital face area (OFA), it was less robust than the FFA. Taken together, our data suggest that among the face-selective and object-selective regions, the FFA is a primary neural source of the behavioral FIE.

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