Natural facial motion enhances cortical responses to faces

Exp Brain Res. 2009 Apr;194(3):465-75. doi: 10.1007/s00221-009-1721-9. Epub 2009 Feb 11.


The ability to perceive facial motion is important to successfully interact in social environments. Previously, imaging studies have investigated neural correlates of facial motion primarily using abstract motion stimuli. Here, we studied how the brain processes natural non-rigid facial motion in direct comparison to static stimuli and matched phase-scrambled controls. As predicted from previous studies, dynamic faces elicit higher responses than static faces in lateral temporal areas corresponding to hMT+/V5 and STS. Interestingly, individually defined, static-face-sensitive regions in bilateral fusiform gyrus and left inferior occipital gyrus also respond more to dynamic than static faces. These results suggest integration of form and motion information during the processing of dynamic faces even in ventral temporal and inferior lateral occipital areas. In addition, our results show that dynamic stimuli are a robust tool to localize areas related to the processing of static and dynamic face information.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation