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Explicating the face perception network with white matter connectivity.

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2013, 00:00 by John PylesJohn Pyles, Timothy Verstynen, Walter Schneider, Michael J. Tarr

A network of multiple brain regions is recruited in face perception. Our understanding of the functional properties of this network can be facilitated by explicating the structural white matter connections that exist between its functional nodes. We accomplished this using functional MRI (fMRI) in combination with fiber tractography on high angular resolution diffusion weighted imaging data. We identified the three nodes of the core face network: the "occipital face area" (OFA), the "fusiform face area" (mid-fusiform gyrus or mFus), and the superior temporal sulcus (STS). Additionally, a region of the anterior temporal lobe (aIT), implicated as being important for face perception was identified. Our data suggest that we can further divide the OFA into multiple anatomically distinct clusters - a partitioning consistent with several recent neuroimaging results. More generally, structural white matter connectivity within this network revealed: 1) Connectivity between aIT and mFus, and between aIT and occipital regions, consistent with studies implicating this posterior to anterior pathway as critical to normal face processing; 2) Strong connectivity between mFus and each of the occipital face-selective regions, suggesting that these three areas may subserve different functional roles; 3) Almost no connectivity between STS and mFus, or between STS and the other face-selective regions. Overall, our findings suggest a re-evaluation of the "core" face network with respect to what functional areas are or are not included in this network.