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Differential responses in the fusiform region to same-race and other-race faces

Abstract

Many studies have shown that people remember faces of their own race better than faces of other races. We investigated the neural substrates of same-race memory superiority using functional MRI (fMRI). European-American (EA) and African-American (AA) males underwent fMRI while they viewed photographs of AA males, EA males and objects under intentional encoding conditions. Recognition memory was superior for same-race versus other-race faces. Individually defined areas in the fusiform region that responded preferentially to faces had greater response to same-race versus other-race faces. Across both groups, memory differences between same-race and other-race faces correlated with activation in left fusiform cortex and right parahippocampal and hippocampal areas. These results suggest that differential activation in fusiform regions contributes to same-race memory superiority.

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Figure 1: Race effect on memory and fusiform face area (FFA) activation.
Figure 2: Representative activation maps from different participants demonstrating the functionally defined fusiform face area (FFA).
Figure 3: Correlation between memory differences for same-race versus other-race faces with activations in response to same-race versus other-race faces.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Henderson for permission to use the antique radio pictures, T. Canli for help with data collection and analysis during the early phase of this research, and N. Dudukovic for assistance with data analysis. This research was supported by NIH F32 NS10925-01 grant to A.J.G., Stanford University Office of Technology and Licensing (OTL) grant 2EQA101 to J.L.E., NSF BCS9986128 grant to J.L.E. and J.D.E.G., and NIH MH59940 to J.D.E.G.

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Correspondence to Jennifer L. Eberhardt.

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Golby, A., Gabrieli, J., Chiao, J. et al. Differential responses in the fusiform region to same-race and other-race faces. Nat Neurosci 4, 845–850 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/90565

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