Representations of facial identity information in the ventral visual stream investigated with multivoxel pattern analyses.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

PubMedID: 23658192

Goesaert E, Op de Beeck HP. Representations of facial identity information in the ventral visual stream investigated with multivoxel pattern analyses. J Neurosci. 2013;33(19):8549-58.
The neural basis of face recognition has been investigated extensively. Using fMRI, several regions have been identified in the human ventral visual stream that seem to be involved in processing and identifying faces, but the nature of the face representations in these regions is not well known. In particular, multivoxel pattern analyses have revealed distributed maps within these regions, but did not reveal the organizing principles of these maps. Here we isolated different types of perceptual and conceptual face properties to determine which properties are mapped in which regions. A set of faces was created with systematic manipulations of featural and configural visual characteristics. In a second part of the study, personal and spatial context information was added to all faces except one. The perceptual properties of faces were represented in face regions and in other regions of interest such as early visual and object-selective cortex. Only representations in early visual cortex were correlated with pixel-based similarities between the stimuli. The representation of nonperceptual properties was less distributed. In particular, the spatial location associated with a face was only represented in the parahippocampal place area. These findings demonstrate a relatively distributed representation of perceptual and conceptual face properties that involves both face-selective/sensitive and non-face-selective cortical regions.