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Research on visual face perception has revealed a region in the ventral anterior temporal lobes, often referred to as the anterior temporal face patch (ATFP), which responds strongly to images of faces. To date, the selectivity of the ATFP has been examined by contrasting responses to faces against a small selection of categories. Here, we assess the selectivity of the ATFP in humans with a broad range of visual control stimuli to provide a stronger test of face selectivity in this region. In Experiment 1, participants viewed images from 20 stimulus categories in an eventrelated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design. Faces evoked more activity than all other 19 categories in the left ATFP. In the right ATFP, equally strong responses were observed for both faces and headless bodies. To pursue this unexpected finding, in Experiment 2 we used multi-voxel pattern analysis to examine whether the strong response to face and body stimuli reflects a common coding of both classes, or instead overlapping but distinct representations. On a voxel-by-voxel basis, face and whole-body responses were significantly positively correlated in right ATFP, but face and body-part responses were not. This finding suggests there is shared neural coding of faces and whole-bodies in right ATFP that does not extend to individual body parts. In contrast, the same approach revealed distinct face and body representations in the right fusiform gyrus. These results are indicative of an increasing convergence of distinct sources of person-related perceptual information proceeding from the posterior to the anterior temporal cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1193
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number8
Early online date22 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
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