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Ying Yang, Yang Xu, Carol A. Jew, John A. Pyles, Robert E. Kass, Michael J. Tarr; Exploring the spatio-temporal neural basis of face learning. Journal of Vision 2017;17(6):1. doi: 10.1167/17.6.1.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans are experts at face individuation. Although previous work has identified a network of face-sensitive regions and some of the temporal signatures of face processing, as yet, we do not have a clear understanding of how such face-sensitive regions support learning at different time points. To study the joint spatio-temporal neural basis of face learning, we trained subjects to categorize two groups of novel faces and recorded their neural responses using magnetoencephalography (MEG) throughout learning. A regression analysis of neural responses in face-sensitive regions against behavioral learning curves revealed significant correlations with learning in the majority of the face-sensitive regions in the face network, mostly between 150–250 ms, but also after 300 ms. However, the effect was smaller in nonventral regions (within the superior temporal areas and prefrontal cortex) than that in the ventral regions (within the inferior occipital gyri (IOG), midfusiform gyri (mFUS) and anterior temporal lobes). A multivariate discriminant analysis also revealed that IOG and mFUS, which showed strong correlation effects with learning, exhibited significant discriminability between the two face categories at different time points both between 150–250 ms and after 300 ms. In contrast, the nonventral face-sensitive regions, where correlation effects with learning were smaller, did exhibit some significant discriminability, but mainly after 300 ms. In sum, our findings indicate that early and recurring temporal components arising from ventral face-sensitive regions are critically involved in learning new faces.
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