Localised face processing by the human prefrontal cortex: face-selective intracerebral potentials and post-lesion deficits

Cogn Neuropsychol. 2000 Feb 1;17(1):187-99. doi: 10.1080/026432900380562.


The patient described in the companion paper by Vignal, Chauvel, and Halgren (this issue) was studied with event related potentials (ERPs) recorded directly within the brain substance, as well as with neuropsychological tests before and after therapeutic cortectomy. Large ERPs were evoked in the prefrontal cortex to faces, as compared to sensory controls and words. The largest such ERPs were highly localised to the same right anterior inferior prefrontal site where direct electrical stimulation resulted in face hallucinations. Face-selective ERPs were also evoked in the right prefrontal sites that had shown projected activity during face hallucinations, and near the right anterior superior temporal sulcus. Selective responses began about 150msec after face onset. Words, but not faces or sensory controls, evoked large ERPs in distinct locations, mainly in the left hemisphere. A successful surgical therapy was performed by removing the cortex surrounding the right prefrontal site where face-selective responses were recorded and where face hallucinations were evoked by stimulation. This cortectomy resulted in a severe deficit in the recognition of emotional facial expressions, especially fear. No change was noted, however, in the recall of emotional words, or other tasks. The current results provide strong support for the early, specific, and sustained involvement of a multi-focal network in the right inferior fronto-temporal cortex in face-processing.