Distinct Representations of Configuration and Part Information in Multiple Face-Selective Regions of the Human Brain

By Golijeh GolaraiDara G. GhahremaniJennifer L. EberhardtJohn D. E. Gabrieli
Frontiers in Psychology
November2015 Vol. 6

Several regions of the human brain respond more strongly to faces than to other visual stimuli, such as regions in the amygdala (AMG), superior temporal sulcus (STS), and the fusiform face area (FFA). It is unclear if these brain regions are similar in representing the configuration or natural appearance of face parts. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging of healthy adults who viewed natural or schematic faces with internal parts that were either normally configured or randomly rearranged. Response amplitudes were reduced in the AMG and STS when subjects viewed stimuli whose configuration of parts were digitally rearranged, suggesting that these regions represent the 1st order configuration of face parts. In contrast, response amplitudes in the FFA showed little modulation whether face parts were rearranged or if the natural face parts were replaced with lines. Instead, FFA responses were reduced only when both configural and part information were reduced, revealing an interaction between these factors, suggesting distinct representation of 1st order face configuration and parts in the AMG and STS vs. the FFA.