1. Computational and Systems Biology
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The bottom-up and top-down processing of faces in the human occipitotemporal cortex

  1. Xiaoxu Fan
  2. Fan Wang
  3. Hanyu Shao
  4. Peng Zhang
  5. Sheng He  Is a corresponding author
  1. Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  2. University of Minnesota, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e48764 doi: 10.7554/eLife.48764

Abstract

Although face processing has been studied extensively, the dynamics of how face-selective cortical areas are engaged remains unclear. Here we uncovered the timing of activation in core face-selective regions using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magnetoencephalography in humans. Processing of normal faces started in the posterior occipital areas and then proceeded to anterior regions. This bottom-up processing sequence was also observed even when internal facial features were misarranged. However, processing of two-tone Mooney faces lacking explicit prototypical facial features engaged top-down projection from the right posterior fusiform face area to right occipital face area. Further, face-specific responses elicited by contextual cues alone emerged simultaneously in the right ventral face-selective regions, suggesting parallel contextual facilitation. Together, our findings chronicle the precise timing of bottom-up, top-down, as well as context-facilitated processing sequences in the occipital-temporal face network, highlighting the importance of the top-down operations especially when faced with incomplete or ambiguous input.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Xiaoxu Fan

    State Key Lab of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Fan Wang

    State Key Lab of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Hanyu Shao

    State Key Lab of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Peng Zhang

    State Key Lab of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Sheng He

    Department of psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States
    For correspondence
    sheng@umn.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5547-923X

Funding

Beijing Science and Technology Project (Z181100001518002)

  • Sheng He

Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China (2015CB351701)

  • Fan Wang

Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (153311KYSB20160030)

  • Peng Zhang

Beijing Science and Technology Project (Z171100000117003)

  • Sheng He

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: All subjects (age range 19-31) provided written informed consent and consent to publish before the experiments, and experimental protocols were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (# 2017-IRB-004). The image used in Figure 3 is a photograph of one of the authors and The Consent to Publish Form was obtained.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Ming Meng, South China Normal University, China

Publication history

  1. Received: May 24, 2019
  2. Accepted: January 10, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 14, 2020 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2020, Fan et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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