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Feature-based encoding of face identity by single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe

Cao, Runnan and Wang, Jinge and Lin, Chujun and Rutishauser, Ueli and Todorov, Alexander and Li, Xin and Brandmeir, Nicholas and Wang, Shuo (2020) Feature-based encoding of face identity by single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe. . (Unpublished)

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Neurons in the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) that are selective for the identity of specific people are classically thought to encode identity invariant to visual features. However, it remains largely unknown how visual information from higher visual cortex is translated into a semantic representation of an individual person. Here, we show that some MTL neurons are selective to multiple different face identities on the basis of shared features that form clusters in the representation of a deep neural network trained to recognize faces. Contrary to prevailing views, we find that these neurons represent an individual’s face with feature-based encoding, rather than through association with concepts. The response of feature neurons did not depend on face identity nor face familiarity, and the region of feature space to which they are tuned predicted their response to new face stimuli. Our results provide critical evidence bridging the perception-driven representation of facial features in the higher visual cortex and the memory-driven representation of semantics in the MTL, which may form the basis for declarative memory.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Lin, Chujun0000-0002-7605-6508
Rutishauser, Ueli0000-0002-9207-7069
Todorov, Alexander0000-0003-1271-6113
Brandmeir, Nicholas0000-0002-1854-5856
Wang, Shuo0000-0003-2562-0225
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. Posted September 02, 2020. We thank all patients for their participation, staff from WVU Ruby Memorial Hospital for support with patient testing, Minglei Yin for help on analysis, Jeremy Dawson for contributing the FBI Twins dataset, and Ralph Adolphs, Carlos Ponce, and Paula Webster for discussion and valuable comments. This research was supported by an NSF CAREER Award (1945230), ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, West Virginia University (WVU), WVU PSCoR Program, and the Dana Foundation (to S.W.), and an NSF Grant (OAC-1839909) and the WV Higher Education Policy Commission Grant (HEPC.dsr.18.5) (to X.L.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Author Contributions: R.C., A.T., X.L., and S.W. designed research. R.C. and S.W. performed experiments. N.B. performed surgery. R.C., J.W., C.L., X.L. and S.W. analyzed data. R.C, U.R., A.T., X.L., and S.W. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and contributed toward the manuscript. The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Oak Ridge Associated UniversitiesUNSPECIFIED
Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement AwardUNSPECIFIED
West Virginia UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Dana FoundationUNSPECIFIED
West Virginia Higher Education Policy CommissionHEPC.dsr.18.5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200909-083855432
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Feature-based encoding of face identity by single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe. Runnan Cao, Jinge Wang, Chujun Lin, Ueli Rutishauser, Alexander Todorov, Xin Li, Nicholas Brandmeir, Shuo Wang. bioRxiv 2020.09.01.278283; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105288
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Sep 2020 16:32
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:41

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