We sought to determine whether regions of extrastriate visual cortex could be activated in subjects viewing eye and mouth movements that occurred within a stationary face. Eleven subjects participated in three to five functional magnetic resonance imaging sessions in which they viewed moving eyes, moving mouths, or movements of check patterns that occurred in the same spatial location as the eyes or mouth. In each task, the stimuli were superimposed on a radial background pattern that continually moved inward to control for the effect of movement per se. Activation evoked by the radial background was assessed in a separate control task. Moving eyes and mouths activated a bilateral region centered in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS). The moving check patterns did not appreciably activate the STS or surrounding regions. The activation by moving eyes and mouths was distinct from that elicited by the moving radial background, which primarily activated the posterior-temporal-occipital fossa and the lateral occipital sulcus-a region corresponding to area MT/V5. Area MT/V5 was also strongly activated by moving eyes and to a lesser extent by other moving stimuli. These results suggest that a superior temporal region centered in the STS is preferentially involved in the perception of gaze direction and mouth movements. This region of the STS may be functionally related to nearby superior temporal regions thought to be involved in lip-reading and in the perception of hand and body movement.
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