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Frederik Kamps, Ethan Morris, Daniel Dilks; A face is more than just the eyes, nose, and mouth: fMRI evidence for the role of external face features in face recognition. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1233. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1233.
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What is a face? Intuition, along with abundant behavioral and neural evidence, indicates that internal features (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth) are critical for face recognition, yet some behavioral work suggests that external features (e.g., hair, jawline, shoulders) may likewise be processed as part of the face. Here we addressed this question by asking how the brain represents isolated internal and external face features. We tested three predictions in particular. First, if a "face" includes both internal and external face features, then these features should activate similar neural systems. Consistent with this prediction, we found highly overlapping activation for internal and external face features within face-selective cortex. Second, if a "face" includes both internal and external face features, then face-selective regions should respond strongly and selectively to both internal and external face features. Consistent with this prediction, we found strong and selective responses to both internal and external features in four face-selective regions, including the occipital face area (OFA), fusiform face area (FFA), posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), and anterior temporal lobe (ATL). Third, if a face includes both internal and external features, then face-selective regions should perform the same computations across both features. Consistent with this prediction, we found that OFA and pSTS extract the "parts" of both internal and external face features, while FFA and ATL represent the coherent arrangement of both internal and external face parts. Taken together, these results provide strong neural evidence that external features, like internal features, constitute a face.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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