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Kalanit Grill-Spector, Nicholas A Knouf, Nancy G Kanwisher; The fusiform face area is significantly correlated with successful detection andidentification of faces but not objects. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):515. doi: 10.1167/3.9.515.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The fusiform face area (FFA) responds more strongly when people view faces than objects. Here we asked whether the FFA is involved in face-specific processing or subordinate processing of all objects, since it is often assumed that faces are usually identified at the subordinate level (e.g., Tom Cruise) but objects at the basic level (e.g., flower). Subjects were scanned while viewing pictures from one of 6 categories that were presented briefly and then masked. There were 3 types of trials: (1) subordinate target trials (e.g., roses) (2) other objects from the same basic level (e.g., non target flowers) (3) scrambled pictures. Numerous exemplars of each type of target were used in the experiment. Subjects were instructed to respond for each trial whether it was: (1) the subordinate-level target or (2) an object that was not the target or (3) not an object. Trials in which the target subordinate category was presented were sorted according to subjects' responses (identified, detected but not identified, or not detected). We reasoned that if the FFA is involved in subordinate identification its activation should be higher in trials in which objects were successfully identified compared to trials in which they were not identified. For faces, the FFA response was highest for identified targets, middling for detected but not identified targets and lowest for non-detected targets, implicating this region both in the detection and identification of faces. Activation was not significantly higher for successful identification of electric guitars, roses, barns or jeeps for individual subjects. However, nearby ventral-occipito temporal regions were correlated with correct identification of these categories. These data argue against the idea that the FFA is a module for subordinate identification, since FFA activation was correlated with both face detection and identification, and was not strongly correlated with successful identification of other categories.
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