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"I spy with my little eye, something that is a face…": A brain network for illusory face detection

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Thome, I., Hohmann, D. M., Zimmermann, K. M., Smith, M. L., Kessler, R., & Jansen, A. (2022). "I spy with my little eye, something that is a face…": A brain network for illusory face detection. Cerebral Cortex, 32(1), 137-157. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhab199.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-9B04-2
The most basic aspect of face perception is simply detecting the presence of a face, which requires the extraction of features that it has in common with other faces. Putatively, it is caused by matching high-dimensional sensory input with internal face templates, achieved through a top-down mediated coupling between prefrontal regions and brain areas in the occipito-temporal cortex (“core system of face perception”). Illusory face detection tasks can be used to study these top-down inf luences. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we showed that illusory face perception activated just as real faces the core system, albeit with atypical left-lateralization of the occipital face area. The core system was coupled with two distinct brain regions in the lateral prefrontal (inferior frontal gyrus, IFG) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). A dynamic causal modeling (DCM) analysis revealed that activity in the core system during illusory face detection was upregulated by a modulatory face-specific inf luence of the IFG, not as previously assumed by the OFC. Based on these findings, we were able to develop the most comprehensive neuroanatomical framework of illusory face detection until now.