Part of the ventral temporal lobe is thought to be critical for face perception, but what determines this specialization remains unknown. We present evidence that expertise recruits the fusiform gyrus 'face area'. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure changes associated with increasing expertise in brain areas selected for their face preference. Acquisition of expertise with novel objects (greebles) led to increased activation in the right hemisphere face areas for matching of upright greebles as compared to matching inverted greebles. The same areas were also more activated in experts than in novices during passive viewing of greebles. Expertise seems to be one factor that leads to specialization in the face area.
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We wish to thank René Marois for discussion and Terry Hickey for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (to M.J.T.) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (to J.C.G.).
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Gauthier, I., Tarr, M., Anderson, A. et al. Activation of the middle fusiform 'face area' increases with expertise in recognizing novel objects. Nat Neurosci 2, 568–573 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/9224
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