Stimulus inversion impairs face discrimination to a greater extent than discrimination of other non-face object categories. This finding has led to suggestions that upright faces are represented by mechanisms specialized for upright faces whereas inverted face representation depends on more general object recognition mechanisms. In the present study we tested the causal role of face-selective and object-selective cortical areas for upright and inverted face discrimination by transiently disrupting neural processing using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Participants matched upright and inverted faces while TMS was delivered over each participant's functionally localized right occipital face area (rOFA) or right lateral occipital area (rLO). TMS delivered over rOFA disrupted the discrimination of upright and inverted faces while TMS delivered over rLO impaired inverted face discrimination only. These results provide causal evidence that upright faces are represented by face-specific mechanisms whereas inverted faces are represented by both face-specific and object-specific mechanisms. The similar sensitivity of the OFA to upright and inverted faces is consistent with the hypothesis that the OFA processes facial features at an early stage of face processing.
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