We present a novel strategy for deriving a classification system of functional neuroimaging paradigms that relies on hierarchical clustering of experiments archived in the BrainMap database. The goal of our proof-of-concept application was to examine the underlying neural architecture of the face perception literature from a meta-analytic perspective, as these studies include a wide range of tasks. Task-based results exhibiting similar activation patterns were grouped as similar, while tasks activating different brain networks were classified as functionally distinct. We identified four sub-classes of face tasks: (1) Visuospatial Attention and Visuomotor Coordination to Faces, (2) Perception and Recognition of Faces, (3) Social Processing and Episodic Recall of Faces, and (4) Face Naming and Lexical Retrieval. Interpretation of these sub-classes supports an extension of a well-known model of face perception to include a core system for visual analysis and extended systems for personal information, emotion, and salience processing. Overall, these results demonstrate that a large-scale data mining approach can inform the evolution of theoretical cognitive models by probing the range of behavioral manipulations across experimental tasks.
Keywords: Cognitive paradigms; Face perception; Faces; Functional neuroimaging; Meta-analysis; Neuroinformatics.
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