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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

Fall 1997, Vol. 9, No. 5, Pages 605-610
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.1997.9.5.605)
© 1997 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Face-Specific Processing in the Human Fusiform Gyrus
Article PDF (2.92 MB)

The perception of faces is sometimes regarded as a specialized task involving discrete brain regions. In an attempt to identi$ face-specific cortex, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure activation evoked by faces presented in a continuously changing montage of common objects or in a similar montage of nonobjects. Bilateral regions of the posterior fusiform gyrus were activated by faces viewed among nonobjects, but when viewed among objects, faces activated only a focal right fusiform region. To determine whether this focal activation would occur for another category of familiar stimuli, subjects viewed flowers presented among nonobjects and objects. While flowers among nonobjects evoked bilateral fusiform activation, flowers among objects evoked no activation. These results demonstrate that both faces and flowers activate large and partially overlapping regions of inferior extrastriate cortex. A smaller region, located primarily in the right lateral fusiform gyrus, is activated specifically by faces.