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See detailFaces are represented holistically in the human occipito-temporal cortex
Schiltz, Christine UL; Rossion, Bruno

in NeuroImage (2006), 32(3), 1385-1394

Two identical top parts of a face photograph look different if their bottom parts differ. This perceptual illusion, the "face composite effect", is taken as strong evidence that faces are processed as a ... [more ▼]

Two identical top parts of a face photograph look different if their bottom parts differ. This perceptual illusion, the "face composite effect", is taken as strong evidence that faces are processed as a whole rather than as a collection of independent features. To test the hypothesis that areas responding preferentially to faces in the human brain represent faces holistically, we recorded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an adaptation paradigm with the composite face illusion. In both the middle fusiform gyrus (MFG) and the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG), we observed a significantly larger response to the same top face when it was aligned with different bottom parts than with the same bottom part, with a most robust effect in the right middle fusiform gyrus. This difference was not found when the top and the bottom face parts were spatially misaligned or when the faces were presented upside-down. These findings indicate that facial features are integrated into holistic face representations in areas of the human visual cortex responding preferentially to faces. [less ▲]

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See detailImpaired face discrimination in acquired prosopagnosia is associated with abnormal response to individual faces in the right middle fusiform gyrus
Schiltz, Christine UL; Sorger, Bettina; Caldara, Roberto et al

in Cerebral Cortex (2006), 16(4), 574-586

The middle fusiform gyrus (MFG) and the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG) are activated by both detection and identification of faces. Paradoxically, patients with acquired prosopagnosia following lesions to ... [more ▼]

The middle fusiform gyrus (MFG) and the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG) are activated by both detection and identification of faces. Paradoxically, patients with acquired prosopagnosia following lesions to either of these regions in the right hemisphere cannot identify faces, but can still detect faces. Here we acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data during face processing in a patient presenting a specific deficit in individual face recognition, following lesions encompassing the right IOG. Using an adaptation paradigm we show that the fMRI signal in the rMFG of the patient, while being larger in response to faces as compared to objects, does not differ between conditions presenting identical and distinct faces, in contrast to the larger response to distinct faces observed in controls. These results suggest that individual discrimination of faces critically depends on the integrity of both the rMFG and the rIOG, which may interact through re-entrant cortical connections in the normal brain. [less ▲]

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See detailRecovery from adaptation to facial identity is larger for upright than inverted faces in the human occipito-temporal cortex
Mazard, Angelique; Schiltz, Christine UL; Rossion, Bruno

in Neuropsychologia (2006), 44(6), 912-922

Human faces look more similar to each other when they are presented upside-down, leading to an increase of error rates and response times during individual face discrimination tasks. Here we used ... [more ▼]

Human faces look more similar to each other when they are presented upside-down, leading to an increase of error rates and response times during individual face discrimination tasks. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test the hypothesis that this perceived similarity leads to a lower recovery from identity adaptation for inverted faces than for upright faces in face-sensitive areas of the occipito-temporal cortex. Ten subjects were presented with blocks of upright and inverted faces, with the same face identity repeated consecutively in half of the blocks, and different facial identities repeated in the other blocks. When face stimuli were presented upright, the percent signal change in the bilateral middle fusiform gyrus (MFG) was larger for different faces as compared to same faces, replicating previous observations of a recovery from facial identity adaptation in this region. However, there was no significant recovery from adaptation when different inverted faces were presented. Most interestingly, the difference in activation between upright and inverted faces increased progressively during a block when different facial identities were presented. A similar pattern of activation was found in the left middle fusiform gyrus, but was less clear-cut in bilateral face-sensitive areas of the inferior occipital cortex. These findings show that the differential level of activation to upright and inverted faces in the fusiform gyrus is mainly due to a difference in recovery from adaptation, and they explain the discrepancies in the results reported in previous fMRI studies which compared the processing of upright and inverted faces. The lack of recovery from adaptation for inverted faces in the fusiform gyrus may underlie the face inversion effect (FIE), which takes place during perceptual encoding of individual face representations. [less ▲]

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See detailFaces are processed holistically in the right middle fusiform gyrus
Schiltz, Christine UL; Rossion, Bruno

Scientific Conference (2005, May)

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See detailFace-sensitive responses in the occipital inferior cortex of normal humans through feedback inputs from the fusiform gyrus? Evidence from neuroimaging studies of brain-damaged prosopagnosic patient
Rossion, Bruno; Sorger, Bettina; Schiltz, Christine UL et al

Poster (2004, August 13)

In humans, neuroimaging studies have identified two major visual extrastriate areas presenting face-sensitive responses: in the inferior occipital cortex (‘occipital face area’, OFA), and the middle ... [more ▼]

In humans, neuroimaging studies have identified two major visual extrastriate areas presenting face-sensitive responses: in the inferior occipital cortex (‘occipital face area’, OFA), and the middle fusiform gyrus (the ‘fusiform face area’, FFA), with a right hemispheric dominance. It has been proposed that the OFA, located anteriorly to foveal V4v (Halgren et al., 1999), has a critical role in the early perception of facial features and provides the feedforward outputs to later stages of face processing in both the FFA and the STS (Haxby et al., 2000). However, we have recently reported a normal activation of the right FFA despite a lesion encompassing the region of the right OFA in a brain-damaged prosopagnosic patient, PS (Rossion et al., 2003), suggesting that the face-sensitive responses observed at the level of the OFA in normals may rather arise from feedback connections from the FFA. Here we provide complementary fMRI evidence supporting this view. First, the normal differential activation for faces and objects in the right FFA of PS was observed only for left visual field presentations and is thus unlikely to originate from contralateral intact regions of the occipital cortex (e.g. left OFA). Second, the time-course in the right FFA and left OFA of PS for centrally presented items suggests an earlier differential activity between faces and objects in the most anterior region, the FFA. Finally, we imaged another (prosop)agnosic patient (NS, Delvenne et al., 2004) with a lesion encompassing the right FFA but sparing all posterior visual areas, and failed to disclose any face-sensitive response in his nonetheless structurally and functionnally intact occipital cortex. Together, these findings illustrate the necessary role of both the right FFA and OFA for accurate face perception, and reinforce the hypothesis that a dominant (feedback) connection from the FFA to the OFA subtends face-sensitive responses observed in the latter area when processing faces. [less ▲]

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See detailFace-sensitive responses in the occipital inferior cortex of normal humans through feedback inputs from the fusiform gyrus ?: Evidence from neuroimaging studies of brain-damaged prosopagnosic patients
Schiltz, Christine UL; Caldara, Roberto; Sorger, Bettina et al

Poster (2004, June)

In humans, neuroimaging studies have identified two major visual extrastriate areas presenting face-sensitive responses: in the inferior occipital cortex (‘occipital face area’, OFA), and the middle ... [more ▼]

In humans, neuroimaging studies have identified two major visual extrastriate areas presenting face-sensitive responses: in the inferior occipital cortex (‘occipital face area’, OFA), and the middle fusiform gyrus (the ‘fusiform face area’, FFA), with a right hemispheric dominance. It has been proposed that the OFA, located anteriorly to foveal V4v (Halgren et al., 1999), has a critical role in the early perception of facial features and provides the feedforward outputs to later stages of face processing in both the FFA and the STS (Haxby et al., 2000). However, we have recently reported a normal activation of the right FFA despite a lesion encompassing the region of the right OFA in a brain-damaged prosopagnosic patient, PS (Rossion et al., 2003), suggesting that the face-sensitive responses observed at the level of the OFA in normals may rather arise from feedback connections from the FFA. Here we provide complementary fMRI evidence supporting this view. First, the normal differential activation for faces and objects in the right FFA of PS was observed only for left visual field presentations and is thus unlikely to originate from contralateral intact regions of the occipital cortex (e.g. left OFA). Second, the time-course in the right FFA and left OFA of PS for centrally presented items suggests an earlier differential activity between faces and objects in the most anterior region, the FFA. Finally, we imaged another (prosop)agnosic patient (NS, Delvenne et al., 2004) with a lesion encompassing the right FFA but sparing all posterior visual areas, and failed to disclose any face-sensitive response in his nonetheless structurally and functionnally intact occipital cortex. Together, these findings illustrate the necessary role of both the right FFA and OFA for accurate face perception, and reinforce the hypothesis that a dominant (feedback) connection from the FFA to the OFA subtends face-sensitive responses observed in the latter area when processing faces. [less ▲]

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See detailThe functionally defined right occipital and fusiform "face areas" discriminate novel from visually familiar faces
Rossion, Bruno; Schiltz, Christine UL; Crommelinck, Marc

in NeuroImage (2003), 19(3), 877-883

Neuroimaging (PET and fMRI) studies have identified a set of brain areas responding more to faces than to other object categories in the visual extrastriate cortex of humans. This network includes the ... [more ▼]

Neuroimaging (PET and fMRI) studies have identified a set of brain areas responding more to faces than to other object categories in the visual extrastriate cortex of humans. This network includes the middle lateral fusiform gyrus (the fusiform face area, or FFA) as well as the inferior occipital gyrus (occipital face area, OFA). The exact functions of these areas in face processing remain unclear although it has been argued that their primary function is to distinguish faces from nonface object categories-"face detection"-or also to discriminate among faces, irrespective of their visual familiarity to the observer. Here, we combined the data from two previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies to show that the functionally defined face areas are involved in the automatic discrimination between unfamiliar faces and familiar faces. Consistent with previous studies, a face localizer contrast (faces-objects) revealed bilateral activation in the middle lateral fusiform gyrus (FFA, BA37) and in the right inferior occipital cortex (OFA, BA19). Within all the regions of the right hemisphere, larger levels of activation were found for unfamiliar as compared to familiar faces. These results suggest that the very same areas involved in categorizing faces at the basic or individual level, play a role in differentiating familiar faces from new faces, showing an overlap between visual and presemantic mnesic representations of faces in the right hemisphere. [less ▲]

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See detailHow does the brain discriminate familiar and unfamiliar faces? A pet study of face categorical perception
Rossion, Bruno; Schiltz, Christine UL; Robaye, Laurence et al

in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2001), 13(7), 1019-1034

Where and how does the brain discriminate familiar and unfamiliar faces? This question has not been answered yet by neuroimaging studies partly because different tasks were performed on familiar and ... [more ▼]

Where and how does the brain discriminate familiar and unfamiliar faces? This question has not been answered yet by neuroimaging studies partly because different tasks were performed on familiar and unfamiliar faces, or because familiar faces were associated with semantic and lexical information. Here eight subjects were trained during 3 days with a set of 30 faces. The familiarized faces were morphed with unfamiliar faces. Presented with continua of unfamiliar and familiar faces in a pilot experiment, a group of eight subjects presented a categorical perception of face familiarity: there was a sharp boundary in percentage of familiarity decisions between 40% and 60% faces. In the main experiment, subjects were scanned (PET) on the fourth day (after 3 days of training) in six conditions, all requiring a sex classification task. Completely novel faces (0%) were presented in Condition 1 and familiar faces (100%) in Condition 6, while faces of steps of 20% in the continuum of familiarity were presented in Conditions 2 to 5 (20% to 80%). A principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that most variations in neural responses were related to the dissociation between faces perceived as familiar (60% to 100%) and faces perceived as unfamiliar (0 to 40%). Subtraction analyses did not disclose any increase of activation for faces perceived as familiar while there were large relative increases for faces perceived as unfamiliar in several regions of the right occipito-temporal visual pathway. These changes were all categorical and were observed mainly in the right middle occipital gyrus, the right posterior fusiform gyrus, and the right inferotemporal cortex. These results show that (1) the discrimination between familiar and unfamiliar faces is related to relative increases in the right ventral pathway to unfamiliar/novel faces; (2) familiar and unfamiliar faces are discriminated in an all-or-none fashion rather than proportionally to their resemblance to stored representations; and (3) categorical perception of faces is associated with abrupt changes of brain activity in the regions that discriminate the two extremes of the multidimensional continuum. [less ▲]

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