Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published June 12, 2011 | public
Journal Article

The neuropsychology of face perception: beyond simple dissociations and functional selectivity


Face processing relies on a distributed, patchy network of cortical regions in the temporal and frontal lobes that respond disproportionately to face stimuli, other cortical regions that are not even primarily visual (such as somatosensory cortex), and subcortical structures such as the amygdala. Higher-level face perception abilities, such as judging identity, emotion and trustworthiness, appear to rely on an intact face-processing network that includes the occipital face area (OFA), whereas lower-level face categorization abilities, such as discriminating faces from objects, can be achieved without OFA, perhaps via the direct connections to the fusiform face area (FFA) from several extrastriate cortical areas. Some lesion, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) findings argue against a strict feed-forward hierarchical model of face perception, in which the OFA is the principal and common source of input for other visual and non-visual cortical regions involved in face perception, including the FFA, face-selective superior temporal sulcus and somatosensory cortex. Instead, these findings point to a more interactive model in which higher-level face perception abilities depend on the interplay between several functionally and anatomically distinct neural regions. Furthermore, the nature of these interactions may depend on the particular demands of the task. We review the lesion and TMS literature on this topic and highlight the dynamic and distributed nature of face processing.

Additional Information

© 2011 The Royal Society. This is one article from the Theme issue 'Face perception: social, neuropsychological and comparative perspectives' compiled and edited by Anthony C. Little, Benedict C. Jones and Lisa M. DeBruine.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023