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FFA and OFA encode distinct types of face identity information

Tsantani, M., Kriegeskorte, N., Storrs, K. , Williams, A. L., McGettigan, C. & Garrido, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-1955-6506 (2021). FFA and OFA encode distinct types of face identity information. The Journal of Neuroscience, 41(9), pp. 1952-1969. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1449-20.2020


Faces of different people elicit distinct functional MRI (fMRI) patterns in several face-selective brain regions. Here we used representational similarity analysis to investigate what type of identity-distinguishing information is encoded in three face-selective regions: fusiform face area (FFA), occipital face area (OFA), and posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). We used fMRI to measure brain activity patterns elicited by naturalistic videos of famous face identities, and compared their representational distances in each region with models of the differences between identities. Models included low-level to high-level image-computable properties and complex human-rated properties. We found that the FFA representation reflected perceived face similarity, social traits, and gender, and was well accounted for by the OpenFace model (deep neural network, trained to cluster faces by identity). The OFA encoded low-level image-based properties (pixel-wise and Gabor-jet dissimilarities). Our results suggest that, although FFA and OFA can both discriminate between identities, the FFA representation is further removed from the image, encoding higher-level perceptual and social face information.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: representational similarity analysis; face identity; FFA; OFA
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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