Cognitive response profile of the human fusiform face area as determined by MEG

Eric Halgren*, Tommi Raij, Ksenija Marinkovic, Veikko Jousmäki, Riitta Hari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations


Activation in or near the fusiform gyrus was estimated to faces and control stimuli. Activation peaked at 165 ms and was strongest to digitized photographs of human faces, regardless of whether they were presented in color or grayscale, suggesting that face- and color-specific areas are functionally separate. Schematic sketches evoked ~30% less activation than did face photographs. Scrambling the locations of facial features reduced the response by ~25% in either hemisphere, suggesting that configurational versus analytic processing is not lateralized at this latency. Animal faces evoked ~50% less activity, and common objects, animal bodies or sensory controls evoked ~80% less activity than human faces. The (small) responses evoked by meaningless control images were stronger when they included surfaces and shading, suggesting that the fusiform gyrus may use these features in constructing its face-specific response. Putative fusiform activation was not significantly related to stimulus repetition, gender or emotional expression. A midline occipital source significantly distinguished between faces and control images as early as 110 ms, but was more sensitive to sensory qualities. This source significantly distinguished happy and sad faces from those with neutral expressions. We conclude that the fusiform gyrus may selectively encode faces at 165 ms, transforming sensory input for further processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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