Beyond the FFA: Brain-behavior correspondences in face recognition abilities

Neuroimage. 2017 Feb 15;147:409-422. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.042. Epub 2016 Dec 16.


Despite the thousands of papers investigating the neural basis of face perception in both humans and non-human primates, very little is known about how activation within this neural architecture relates to face processing behavior. Here, we investigated individual differences in brain-behavior correspondences within both core and extended regions of the face-processing system in healthy typically developing adults. To do so, we employed a set of behavioral and neural measures to capture a multifaceted perspective on assessing these brain-behavior relations. This included quantifying face and object recognition behavior, the magnitude and size of functional activation within each region, as well as a measure of global activation across regions. We report that face, but not object, recognition behavior was associated with 1) the magnitude of face-selective activation in the left FFA1, 2) larger face-related regions in multiple bilateral face-patches in the fusiform gyri as well as the bilateral anterior temporal lobe and amygdala, and 3) more distributed global face-network activation. In contrast, face recognition behavior was not associated with any measure of object- or place-selective activation. These findings suggest that superior behavior is served by engaging sufficiently large, distributed patches of neural real estate, which might reflect the integration of independent populations of neurons that enables the formation of richer representations.

Keywords: Amygdala; FFA; Face recognition; Fusiform gyrus; Individual differences; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Aptitude / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Young Adult