Lateralization for dynamic facial expressions in human superior temporal sulcus

F.L. De Winter, Q. Zhu, J. van den Van den Stock, K. Nelissen, R. Peeters, B. de Gelder, W. Vanduffel, M. Vandenbulcke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Most face processing studies in humans show stronger activation in the right compared to the left hemisphere. Evidence is largely based on studies with static stimuli focusing on the fusiform face area (FFA). Hence, the pattern of lateralization for dynamic faces is less clear. Furthermore, it is unclear whether this property is common to human and non-human primates due to predisposing processing strategies in the right hemisphere or that alternatively left sided specialization for language in humans could be the driving force behind this phenomenon. We aimed to address both issues by studying lateralization for dynamic facial expressions in monkeys and humans. Therefore, we conducted an event-related fMRI experiment in three macaques and twenty right handed humans. We presented human and monkey dynamic facial expressions (chewing and fear) as well as scrambled versions to both species. We studied lateralization in independently defined face-responsive and face-selective regions by calculating a weighted lateralization index (LIwm) using a bootstrapping method. In order to examine if lateralization in humans is related to language, we performed a separate fMRI experiment in ten human volunteers including a 'speech' expression (one syllable non-word) and its scrambled version. Both within face-responsive and selective regions, we found consistent lateralization for dynamic faces (chewing and fear) versus scrambled versions in the right human posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), but not in FFA nor in ventral temporal cortex. Conversely, in monkeys no consistent pattern of lateralization for dynamic facial expressions was observed. Finally, LIwms based on the contrast between different types of dynamic facial expressions (relative to scrambled versions) revealed left-sided lateralization in human pSTS for speech-related expressions compared to chewing and emotional expressions. To conclude, we found consistent laterality effects in human posterior STS but not in visual cortex of monkeys. Based on our results, it is tempting to speculate that lateralization for dynamic face processing in humans may be driven by left-hemispheric language specialization which may not have been present yet in the common ancestor of human and macaque monkeys. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-352
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroimage
Volume106
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

Keywords

  • CEREBRAL LATERALIZATION
  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • Comparative
  • Dynamic facial expressions
  • FMRI
  • FUNCTIONAL MRI
  • FUSIFORM FACE AREA
  • HUMAN BRAIN
  • LANGUAGE DOMINANCE
  • Lateralization
  • MACAQUE CORTEX
  • PERCEPTION
  • RIGHT-HEMISPHERE
  • fMRI

Cite this