The effect of face inversion on the human fusiform face area

Cognition. 1998 Aug;68(1):B1-11. doi: 10.1016/s0010-0277(98)00035-3.


Inversion severely impairs the recognition of greyscale faces and the ability to see the stimulus as a face in two-tone Mooney images. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the effect of face inversion on the human fusiform face area (FFA). MR signal intensity from the FFA was reduced when greyscale faces were presented upside-down, but this effect was small and inconsistent across subjects when subjects were required to attend to both upright and inverted faces. However when two-tone faces were inverted, the MR signal from the FFA was substantially reduced for all subjects. We conclude that (i) the FFA responds to faces per se, rather than to the low-level visual features present in faces, and (ii) inverted greyscale faces can strongly activate this face-specific mechanism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occipital Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*