Exemplar selectivity reflects perceptual similarities in the human fusiform cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jul;24(7):1879-93. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht038. Epub 2013 Feb 25.


While brain imaging studies emphasized the category selectivity of face-related areas, the underlying mechanisms of our remarkable ability to discriminate between different faces are less understood. Here, we recorded intracranial local field potentials from face-related areas in patients presented with images of faces and objects. A highly significant exemplar tuning within the category of faces was observed in high-Gamma (80-150 Hz) responses. The robustness of this effect was supported by single-trial decoding of face exemplars using a minimal (n = 5) training set. Importantly, exemplar tuning reflected the psychophysical distance between faces but not their low-level features. Our results reveal a neuronal substrate for the establishment of perceptual distance among faces in the human brain. They further imply that face neurons are anatomically grouped according to well-defined functional principles, such as perceptual similarity.

Keywords: ECoG; face perception; high-gamma; perceptual similarity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / pathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen