Face Patch Resting State Networks Link Face Processing to Social Cognition

PLoS Biol. 2015 Sep 8;13(9):e1002245. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002245. eCollection 2015.


Faces transmit a wealth of social information. How this information is exchanged between face-processing centers and brain areas supporting social cognition remains largely unclear. Here we identify these routes using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging in macaque monkeys. We find that face areas functionally connect to specific regions within frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices, as well as subcortical structures supporting emotive, mnemonic, and cognitive functions. This establishes the existence of an extended face-recognition system in the macaque. Furthermore, the face patch resting state networks and the default mode network in monkeys show a pattern of overlap akin to that between the social brain and the default mode network in humans: this overlap specifically includes the posterior superior temporal sulcus, medial parietal, and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, areas supporting high-level social cognition in humans. Together, these results reveal the embedding of face areas into larger brain networks and suggest that the resting state networks of the face patch system offer a new, easily accessible venue into the functional organization of the social brain and into the evolution of possibly uniquely human social skills.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Face / physiology
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Social Behavior*