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Samantha Podrebarac, Melvyn Goodale, Rick van der Zwan, Jacqueline Snow; Gender-selective neural populations within the occipital and fusiform face-areas: Evidence from rapid event-related fMRI. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):784. doi: 10.1167/12.9.784.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Facial features provide salient cues about the gender of another individual – information that is critical for human social interaction and mate selection. Although much is known about the neural representation of face and body information in ventral temporal cortex, surprisingly little is known about the neural circuitry supporting the recognition of gender. We used rapid event related fMRI adaptation to examine neuronal sensitivity to facial gender-based cues within face- and body-selective regions of ventral temporal cortex. Each trial involved a brief (400ms) presentation of two consecutive greyscale images of faces. In the ‘Different’ condition, paired images each depicted an individual of a different gender (i.e., male - female). In the ‘Identical’ condition, the images consisted of individuals of the same gender (i.e., male - male). Importantly, facial identity was not repeated within or across trials. The participant’s task was to make an orthogonal attractiveness rating on randomly occurring trials within each scan, which were later excluded from data analysis. We used an independent task to functionally localize facial identity-selective and body-selective areas within ventral temporal cortex of each observer. Changing the gender of the face on ‘Different’ trials produced significant release from adaptation within both the occipital and fusiform face areas. Conversely, we did not find evidence for gender-based sensitivity within neighboring extrastriate and fusiform body-selective regions. Our results indicate that neuronal populations within ventral temporal face-selective cortex are sensitive to gender-based information provided within facial images. This selectivity occurs independently of changes in facial identity. The same gender-based cues do not, however, appear to transfer across-category to neighboring body-selective areas.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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