Different cortical dynamics in face and body perception: An MEG study

H.K.M. Meeren, B. de Gelder, S.P. Ahlfors, M.S. Hämäläinen, N.K. Hadjikhani

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Evidence from functional neuroimaging indicates that visual perception of human faces and bodies is carried out by distributed networks of face and body-sensitive areas in the occipito-temporal cortex. However, the dynamics of activity in these areas, needed to understand their respective functional roles, are still largely unknown. We monitored brain activity with millisecond time resolution by recording magnetoencephalographic (MEG) responses while participants viewed photographs of faces, bodies, and control stimuli. The cortical activity underlying the evoked responses was estimated with anatomically-constrained noise-normalised minimum-norm estimate and statistically analysed with spatiotemporal cluster analysis.

Our findings point to distinct spatiotemporal organization of the neural systems for face and body perception. Face-selective cortical currents were found at early latencies (120–200 ms) in a widespread occipito-temporal network including the ventral temporal cortex (VTC). In contrast, early body-related responses were confined to the lateral occipito-temporal cortex (LOTC). These were followed by strong sustained body-selective responses in the orbitofrontal cortex from 200–700 ms, and in the lateral temporal cortex and VTC after 500 ms latency. Our data suggest that the VTC region has a key role in the early processing of faces, but not of bodies. Instead, the LOTC, which includes the extra-striate body area (EBA), appears the dominant area for early body perception, whereas the VTC contributes to late and post-perceptual processing.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere71408
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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