Dissociation of sensitivity to spatial frequency in word and face preferential areas of the fusiform gyrus

Cereb Cortex. 2011 Oct;21(10):2307-12. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr008. Epub 2011 Mar 2.


Different cortical regions within the ventral occipitotemporal junction have been reported to show preferential responses to particular objects. Thus, it is argued that there is evidence for a left-lateralized visual word form area and a right-lateralized fusiform face area, but the unique specialization of these areas remains controversial. Words are characterized by greater power in the high spatial frequency (SF) range, whereas faces comprise a broader range of high and low frequencies. We investigated how these high-order visual association areas respond to simple sine-wave gratings that varied in SF. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrated lateralization of activity that was concordant with the low-level visual property of words and faces; left occipitotemporal cortex is more strongly activated by high than by low SF gratings, whereas the right occipitotemporal cortex responded more to low than high spatial frequencies. Therefore, the SF of a visual stimulus may bias the lateralization of processing irrespective of its higher order properties.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Face
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reading*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*