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Distinct representations of eye gaze and identity in the distributed human neural system for face perception

Abstract

Face perception requires representation of invariant aspects that underlie identity recognition as well as representation of changeable aspects, such as eye gaze and expression, that facilitate social communication. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated the perception of face identity and eye gaze in the human brain. Perception of face identity was mediated more by regions in the inferior occipital and fusiform gyri, and perception of eye gaze was mediated more by regions in the superior temporal sulci. Eye-gaze perception also seemed to recruit the spatial cognition system in the intraparietal sulcus to encode the direction of another's gaze and to focus attention in that direction.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Leslie Ungerleider and Alex Martin for their comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. We also wish to thank Timothy Ellmore and Jennifer Schouten for assistance with data collection, analysis and figure preparation. Finally, we wish to thank Anders Dale and Bruce Fischl for providing the software for displaying results on inflated and flattened cortical surfaces and for their assistance with the use of this software.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Hoffman.

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Hoffman, E., Haxby, J. Distinct representations of eye gaze and identity in the distributed human neural system for face perception. Nat Neurosci 3, 80–84 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/71152

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