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The fusiform face area subserves face perception, not generic within-category identification.

The function of the fusiform face area (FFA), a face-selective region in human extrastriate cortex, is a matter of active debate. Here we measured the correlation between FFA activity measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral outcomes in perceptual tasks to determine the role of the FFA in the detection and within-category identification of faces and objects. Our data show that FFA activation is correlated on a trial-by-trial basis with both detecting the presence of faces and identifying specific faces. However, for most non-face objects (including cars seen by car experts), within-category identification performance was correlated with activation in other regions of the ventral occipitotemporal cortex, not the FFA. These results indicate that the FFA is involved in both detection and identification of faces, but that it has little involvement in within-category identification of non-face objects (including objects of expertise).

Pubmed ID: 15077112


  • Grill-Spector K
  • Knouf N
  • Kanwisher N


Nature neuroscience

Publication Data

May 28, 2004

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NEI NIH HHS, Id: EY13455
  • Agency: NCRR NIH HHS, Id: P41RR14075

Mesh Terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Data Display
  • Discrimination (Psychology)
  • Face
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception