A new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology (issue of January 22, 2019), identifies for the first time the neurons in the human visual cortex that selectively respond to faces. The study was carried out by Dr. Vadim Axelrod, head of the Consciousness and Cognition Laboratory at the Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with a team from Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (team leader: Prof. Lionel Naccache).
The researchers showed that the neurons in the visual cortex (in the vicinity of the Fusiform Face Area) responded much more strongly to faces than to city landscapes or objects. A high response was found both for faces of famous people (e.g., Charles Aznavour, Nicolas Sarkozy, Catherine Deneuve, Louis De Funes) and for faces unfamiliar to the participant in the experiment. In an additional experiment, the neurons exhibited face-selectivity to human and animal faces that appeared within a movie (a clip from Charlie Chaplin's The Circus).
Prof - Charles - Gross - Colleagues - Neurons
"In the early 1970s Prof. Charles Gross and colleagues discovered the neurons in the visual cortex of macaque monkeys that responded to faces. In humans, face-selective activity has been extensively investigated, mainly using non-invasive tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electrophysiology (EEG)," explains the paper's lead author, Dr. Axelrod. "Strikingly, face-neurons in posterior temporal visual cortex have never been identified before...
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