The fusiform face area subserves face perception, not generic within-category identification

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Grill-Spector, Kalanit; Knouf, Nicholas; Kanwisher, Nancy


Nature Neuroscience, Volume 7, Number 5, p.555–562 (2004)



The function of the fusiform face area (FFA), a face-selective region in human extrastriate cortex, is a matter of active debate. Here we measured the correlation between FFA activity measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral outcomes in perceptual tasks to determine the role of the FFA in the detection and within-category identification of faces and objects. Our data show that FFA activation is correlated on a trial-by-trial basis with both detecting the presence of faces and identifying specific faces. However, for most non-face objects (including cars seen by car experts), within-category identification performance was correlated with activation in other regions of the ventral occipitotemporal cortex, not the FFA. These results indicate that the FFA is involved in both detection and identification of faces, but that it has little involvement in within-category identification of non-face objects (including objects of expertise).

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