Neural and cognitive face-selective markers: An integrative review

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Faces elicit robust and selective neural responses in the primate brain. These neural responses have been investigated with functional MRI and EEG in numerous studies, which have reported face-selective activations in the occipital-temporal cortex and an electrophysiological face-selective response that peaks 170 ms after stimulus onset at occipital-temporal sites. Evidence for face-selective processes has also been consistently reported in cognitive studies, which investigated the face inversion effect, the composite face effect and the left visual field (LVF) superiority. These cognitive effects indicate that the perceptual representation that we generate for faces differs from the representation that is generated for inverted faces or non-face objects. In this review, I will show that the fMRI and ERP face-selective responses are strongly associated with these three well-established behavioral face-selective measures. I will further review studies that examined the relationship between fMRI and EEG face-selective measures suggesting that they are strongly linked. Taken together these studies imply that a holistic representation of a face is generated at 170 ms after stimulus onset over the right hemisphere. These findings, which reveal a strong link between the various and complementary cognitive and neural measures of face processing, allow to characterize where, when and how faces are represented during the first 200 ms of face processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • ERP
  • FMRI
  • Face inversion effect
  • Face processing
  • Face-selective
  • Fusiform face area
  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Holistic processing
  • N170

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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