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Open Access Research article

Common cortical responses evoked by appearance, disappearance and change of the human face

Emi Tanaka1*, Koji Inui12, Tetsuo Kida1 and Ryusuke Kakigi123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan

2 Department of Physiological Sciences, School of Life Sciences, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan

3 RISTEX, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-38

Published: 24 April 2009



To segregate luminance-related, face-related and non-specific components involved in spatio-temporal dynamics of cortical activations to a face stimulus, we recorded cortical responses to face appearance (Onset), disappearance (Offset), and change (Change) using magnetoencephalography.


Activity in and around the primary visual cortex (V1/V2) showed luminance-dependent behavior. Any of the three events evoked activity in the middle occipital gyrus (MOG) at 150 ms and temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) at 250 ms after the onset of each event. Onset and Change activated the fusiform gyrus (FG), while Offset did not. This FG activation showed a triphasic waveform, consistent with results of intracranial recordings in humans.


Analysis employed in this study successfully segregated four different elements involved in the spatio-temporal dynamics of cortical activations in response to a face stimulus. The results show the responses of MOG and TPJ to be associated with non-specific processes, such as the detection of abrupt changes or exogenous attention. Activity in FG corresponds to a face-specific response recorded by intracranial studies, and that in V1/V2 is related to a change in luminance.