Article abstract


Nature Neuroscience 9, 1177 - 1185 (2006)
Published online: 6 August 2006 | Corrected online: 13 December 2006 | doi:10.1038/nn1745



There is a Corrigendum (January 2007) associated with this Article.

High-resolution imaging reveals highly selective nonface clusters in the fusiform face area

Kalanit Grill-Spector1,2, Rory Sayres2 & David Ress3


A region in ventral human cortex (fusiform face area, FFA) thought to be important for face perception responds strongly to faces and less strongly to nonface objects. This pattern of response may reflect a uniform face-selective neural population or activity averaged across populations with heterogeneous selectivity. Using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we found that the FFA has a reliable heterogeneous structure: localized subregions within the FFA highly selective to faces are spatially interdigitated with localized subregions highly selective to different object categories. We found a preponderance of face-selective responses in the FFA, but no difference in selectivity to faces compared to nonfaces. Thus, standard fMRI of the FFA reflects averaging of heterogeneous highly selective neural populations of differing sizes, rather than higher selectivity to faces. These results suggest that visual processing in this region is not exclusive to faces. Overall, our approach provides a framework for understanding the fine-scale structure of neural representations in the human brain.

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  1. Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, USA.
  2. Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, USA.
  3. Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 02912, USA.

Correspondence to: Kalanit Grill-Spector1,2 e-mail: kalanit@psych.stanford.edu

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