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Henryk Bukowski, Bruno Rossion, Christine Schiltz, Bernard Hanseeuw, Laurence Dricot; Cerebral lateralization of the face-cortical network in left-handers: only the FFA does not get it right. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):659. doi: 10.1167/10.7.659.
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© 2015 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Face processing is a function that is highly lateralized in humans, as supported by original evidence from brain lesion studies (Hecaen & Anguerlergues, 1962), followed by studies using divided visual field presentations (Heller & Levy, 1981), neuroimaging (Sergent et al., 1992) and event-related potentials (Bentin et al., 1996). Studies in non-human primates (Perrett et al., 1988; Zangenehpour & Chaudhuri, 2005), or other mammals (Peirce & Kendrick, 2001) support the right lateralization of the function, which may be related to a dominance of the right hemisphere in global visual processing. However, in humans there is evidence that manual preference may shift or qualify the pattern of lateralization for faces in the visual cortex: face recognition impairments following unilateral left hemisphere brain damage have been found only in a few left-handers (e.g., Mattson et al., 1992; Barton, 2009). Here we measured the pattern of lateralization in the entire cortical face network in right and left-handers (12 subjects in each group) using a well-balanced face-localizer block paradigm in fMRI (faces, cars, and their phase-scrambled versions). While the FFA was strongly right lateralized in right-handers, as described previously, it was equally strong in both hemispheres in left-handers. In contrast, other areas of the face-sensitive network (posterior superior temporal sulcus, pSTS; occipital face area, OFA; anterior infero-temporal cortex, AIT; amygdala) remained identically right lateralized in both left- and right-handers. Accordingly, our results strongly suggest that the face-sensitive network is equally lateralized for left- and right-handers, and thus the face processing is not influenced by handedness. However, the FFA is an important exception since it is right-lateralized for right-handers but its recruitment is more balanced between hemispheres for left-handers. These observations carry important theoretical and clinical implications for the aetiology of brain lateralization depending on the left- or right-handedness and the neuropsychological undertaking of prosopagnosic patients.
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