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Reduced structural connectivity in ventral visual cortex in congenital prosopagnosia


Using diffusion tensor imaging and tractography, we found that a disruption in structural connectivity in ventral occipito-temporal cortex may be the neurobiological basis for the lifelong impairment in face recognition that is experienced by individuals who suffer from congenital prosopagnosia. Our findings suggest that white-matter fibers in ventral occipito-temporal cortex support the integrated function of a distributed cortical network that subserves normal face processing.

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Figure 1: Tractography reveals a profound alteration in the structural integrity of the ILF and the IFOF in individuals with congenital prosopagnosia compared with their matched controls.
Figure 2: The relation between alterations in structural connectivity in ventral occipito-temporal cortex and poor face-recognition ability.


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We are grateful to S. Mori and H. Jiang of Johns Hopkins University who provided advice and guidance at various stages of this project regarding the development of the DTI protocol and method of analysis. We thank S. Kurdilla and D. Viszlay of the Brain Imaging Research Center for their help in the acquisition of the imaging data and B. Frye and T. Keller for their help with the computation and analyses of fractional anisotropy maps. This study was funded by grants from the US National Institute of Mental Health (MH54246) to M.B. and by awards from the National Alliance for Autism Research (Autism Speaks) to C.T. and K.H. and from the Cure Autism Now foundation to K.H.

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C.T conducted the experiment, undertook the majority of the data analysis and wrote the manuscript. G.A. and K.H. assisted with characterizing the subjects and collecting the behavioral data. K.J. and F.G. contributed to data analysis. M.B. contributed to writing the manuscript and supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Cibu Thomas.

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Supplementary Figures 1 and 2, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 436 kb)

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Thomas, C., Avidan, G., Humphreys, K. et al. Reduced structural connectivity in ventral visual cortex in congenital prosopagnosia. Nat Neurosci 12, 29–31 (2009).

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