Neural correlates of shape and surface reflectance information in individual faces

F. Jiang*, L. Dricot, V. Blanz, R. Goebel, Bruno Rossion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Faces are recognized by means of both shape and surface reflectance information. However, it is unclear how these two types of diagnostic information are represented in the human brain. To clarify this issue, we tested 14 participants in an event-related functional magnetic resonance adaptation paradigm, with four conditions created by using a 3D morphable model: (1) repetition of the same adapting face; (2) variation in shape only; (3) variation in surface reflectance only; (4) variation in both shape and surface reflectance. Change in face shape alone was the dominant driving force of the adaptation release in functionally defined face-sensitive areas in the right hemisphere (fusiform face area [FFA], occipital face area [OFA]). In contrast, homologous areas of the left hemisphere showed comparable adaptation release to changes in face shape and surface reflectance. When both changes in shape and reflectance were combined, there was no further increased release from adaptation in face-sensitive areas. Overall, these observations indicate that the two main sources of information in individual faces, shape and reflectance, contribute to individual face sensitivity found in the cortical face network. Moreover, the sensitivity to shape cues is more dominant in the right hemisphere, possibly reflecting a privileged mode of global (holistic) face processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1091
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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