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 1, 2017 | Supplemental Material + Accepted Version + Submitted
Journal Article Open

The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain


Primates recognize complex objects such as faces with remarkable speed and reliability. Here, we reveal the brain's code for facial identity. Experiments in macaques demonstrate an extraordinarily simple transformation between faces and responses of cells in face patches. By formatting faces as points in a high-dimensional linear space, we discovered that each face cell's firing rate is proportional to the projection of an incoming face stimulus onto a single axis in this space, allowing a face cell ensemble to encode the location of any face in the space. Using this code, we could precisely decode faces from neural population responses and predict neural firing rates to faces. Furthermore, this code disavows the long-standing assumption that face cells encode specific facial identities, confirmed by engineering faces with drastically different appearance that elicited identical responses in single face cells. Our work suggests that other objects could be encoded by analogous metric coordinate systems.

Additional Information

© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Received 16 February 2017, Revised 29 March 2017, Accepted 3 May 2017, Available online 1 June 2017. This work was supported by the NIH (1R01EY019702), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, and the Swartz Foundation (# 2013-36, fellowship to L.C.). We thank Nicole Schweers for technical support, members of the Tsao lab, Margaret Livingstone, and Albert Tsao for critical comments, and Rodrigo Quian Quiroga for an inspiring conversation.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - nihms-877344.pdf

Submitted - ChangTsao_Manuscript_File_Apr28_FINAL.docx.pdf

Supplemental Material - mmc1.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc2.mp4


Files (6.1 MB)
Name Size Download all
1.4 MB Download
773.8 kB Preview Download
2.5 MB Preview Download
1.5 MB Download

Additional details

August 21, 2023
October 25, 2023