A human parietal face area contains aligned head-centered visual and tactile maps

Nat Neurosci. 2006 Oct;9(10):1337-43. doi: 10.1038/nn1777. Epub 2006 Sep 24.


Visually guided eating, biting and kissing, and avoiding objects moving toward the face and toward which the face moves require prompt, coordinated processing of spatial visual and somatosensory information in order to protect the face and the brain. Single-cell recordings in parietal cortex have identified multisensory neurons with spatially restricted, aligned visual and somatosensory receptive fields, but so far, there has been no evidence for a topographic map in this area. Here we mapped the organization of a multisensory parietal face area in humans by acquiring functional magnetic resonance images while varying the polar angle of facial air puffs and close-up visual stimuli. We found aligned maps of tactile and near-face visual stimuli at the highest level of human association cortex-namely, in the superior part of the postcentral sulcus. We show that this area may code the location of visual stimuli with respect to the face, not with respect to the retina.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*