Perception and processing of faces in the human brain is tuned to typical feature locations

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
Date
2016-09-07
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
14
9289-9302
Series
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Volume 36, issue 36
Abstract
Faces are salient social stimuli whose features attract a stereotypical pattern of fixations. The implications of this gaze behavior for perception and brain activity are largely unknown. Here, we characterize and quantify a retinotopic bias implied by typical gaze behavior toward faces, which leads to eyes and mouth appearing most often in the upper and lower visual field, respectively. We found that the adult human visual system is tuned to these contingencies. In two recognition experiments, recognition performance for isolated face parts was better when they were presented at typical, rather than reversed, visual field locations. The recognition cost of reversed locations was equal to_60% of that for whole face inversion in the same sample. Similarly, an fMRI experiment showed that patterns of activity evoked by eye and mouth stimuli in the right inferior occipital gyrus could be separated with significantly higher accuracy when these features were presented at typical, rather than reversed, visual field locations. Our findings demonstrate thathumanface perception is determined not only by the local position of features within a face context, but by whether features appear at the typical retinotopic location given normal gaze behavior. Such location sensitivity may reflect fine-tuning of category-specific visual processing to retinal input statistics. Our findings further suggest that retinotopic heterogeneity might play a role for face inversion effects and for the understanding of conditions affecting gaze behavior toward faces, such as autism spectrum disorders and congenital prosopagnosia.
Description
Keywords
Decoding, Face perception, fMRI, Gaze behavior, Occipital face area, Retinotopy
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Citation
de Haas , B , Schwarzkopf , D S , Alvarez , I , Lawson , R P , Henriksson , L , Kriegeskorte , N & Rees , G 2016 , ' Perception and processing of faces in the human brain is tuned to typical feature locations ' , JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE , vol. 36 , no. 36 , pp. 9289-9302 . https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4131-14.2016