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Valerie Goffaux, Bettina Sorger, Christine Schiltz, Rainer Goebel, Bruno Rossion; Investigation of featural versus configural processing of faces in the middle fusiform gyrus. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):625. doi: 10.1167/7.9.625.
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Inverting a face affects the processing of the vertical relations between features (e.g. eye height) more than the processing of horizontal relations (e.g. interocular distance) and of local features (e.g. eye shape and surface) . Inversion also decreases hemodynamic responses (HR) in face-sensitive regions in the middle fusiform gyrus (MFG), presumably because it reduces face distinctiveness and leads to larger adaptation . Here we tested the hypothesis that inversion affects the perception of vertical metric distances between features in the MFG. In the present fMRI study, twelve subjects were presented with short blocks of upright and inverted pairs composed either of identical faces (‘same’ condition), or of faces that differed at the level of ‘vertical’ relations, ‘horizontal’ relations, the shape of all inner feature (‘different’), or the shape of one single ‘feature’. In rMFG, smaller HR were observed for ‘same’ as compared to ‘different’ condition when faces were presented upright; due to HR adaptation. ‘Vertical’, ‘horizontal’ and ‘featural’ conditions led to HR close to ‘same’ condition. Inversion decreased HR in all conditions except the ‘same’ condition, thus replicating previous findings . The largest inversion-related decrements measured in rMFG were observed for vertical relations. In the left MFG, all conditions led to larger HR than the ‘same’ condition at upright. Inversion decreased HR in vertical and horizontal conditions only. These results suggest different roles of the MFG across hemispheres. rMFG may code ecological face differences, since release from adaptation was only observed for completely different faces in this region. Moreover, rMFG may be sensitive to face configuration as suggested by the generalised inversion-related HR decrease. In contrast, lMFG may code any kind of physical difference between faces irrespective of orientation, except for relational differences.
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