The neural basis of the behavioral face-inversion effect

Galit Yovel*, Nancy Kanwisher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two of the most robust markers for "special" face processing are the behavioral face-inversion effect (FIE) - the disproportionate drop in recognition of upside-down (inverted) stimuli relative to upright faces - and the face-selective fMRI response in the fusiform face area (FFA). However, the relationship between these two face-selective markers is unknown. Here we report that the behavioral FIE is closely associated with the fMRI response in the FFA, but not in other face-selective or object-selective regions. The FFA and the face-selective region in the superior temporal sulcus (f_STS), but not the occipital face-selective region (OFA), showed a higher response to upright than inverted faces. However, only in the FFA was this fMRI-FIE positively correlated across subjects with the behavioral FIE. Second, the FFA, but not the f_STS, showed greater neural sensitivity to differences between faces when they were upright than inverted, suggesting a possible neural mechanism for the behavioral FIE. Although a similar trend was found in the occipital face area (OFA), it was less robust than the FFA. Taken together, our data suggest that among the face-selective and object-selective regions, the FFA is a primary neural source of the behavioral FIE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2256-2262
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - 24 Dec 2005


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Health66696
National Eye InstituteR01EY013455
National Center for Research ResourcesR01 RR16594-01A1, P41RR014075, BIRN002, R01RR016594


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