Probabilistic atlases for face and biological motion perception: An analysis of their reliability and overlap
Neuroimaging research has identified several category-selective regions in visual cortex that respond most strongly when viewing an exemplar image from a preferred category, such as faces. Recent studies, however, have suggested a more complex pattern of activation that has been heretofore unrecognized, e.g., the presence of additional patches of activation to faces beyond the well-studied fusiform face area, and the activation of ostensible face selective regions by animate motion of non-biological forms. Here, we characterize the spatial pattern of brain activity evoked by viewing faces or biological motion in large fMRI samples (N > 120). We create probabilistic atlases for both face and biological motion activation, and directly compare their spatial patterns of activation. Our findings support the suggestion that the fusiform face area is composed of at least two separable foci of activation. The face-evoked response in the fusiform and nearby ventral temporal cortex has good reliability across runs; however, we found surprisingly high variability in lateral brain regions by faces, and for all brain regions by biological motion, which had an overall much lower effect size. We found that faces and biological motion evoke substantially overlapping activation distributions in both ventral and lateral occipitotemporal cortex. The peaks of activation for these different categories within these overlapping regions were close but distinct.
Engell A.D. and McCarthy G. (2013). fMRI activation by face and biological motion perception: Comparison of response maps and creation of probabilistic atlases. NeuroImage, 74, 140-151.