Multimodal mapping of the face connectome

Nat Hum Behav. 2020 Apr;4(4):397-411. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0811-3. Epub 2020 Jan 27.


Face processing supports our ability to recognize friend from foe, form tribes and understand the emotional implications of changes in facial musculature. This skill relies on a distributed network of brain regions, but how these regions interact is poorly understood. Here we integrate anatomical and functional connectivity measurements with behavioural assays to create a global model of the face connectome. We dissect key features, such as the network topology and fibre composition. We propose a neurocognitive model with three core streams; face processing along these streams occurs in a parallel and reciprocal manner. Although long-range fibre paths are important, the face network is dominated by short-range fibres. Finally, we provide evidence that the well-known right lateralization of face processing arises from imbalanced intra- and interhemispheric connections. In summary, the face network relies on dynamic communication across highly structured fibre tracts, enabling coherent face processing that underpins behaviour and cognition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Connectome*
  • Face / anatomy & histology
  • Face / innervation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Young Adult