Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific regions of the human occipito-temporal cortex are consistently activated in functional imaging studies of face processing. To understand the contribution of these regions to face processing, we examined the pattern of fMRI activation in four congenital prosopagnosic (CP) individuals who are markedly impaired at face processing despite normal vision and intelligence, and with no evidence of brain damage. These individuals evinced a normal pattern of fMRI activation in the fusiform gyrus (FFA) and in other ventral occipito-temporal areas, in response to faces, buildings, and other objects, shown both as line drawings in detection and discrimination tasks and under more naturalistic testing conditions when no task was required. CP individuals also showed normal adaptation levels in a block-design adaptation experiment and, like control subjects, exhibited evidence of global face representation in the FFA. The absence of a BOLD-behavioral correlation (profound behavioral deficit, normal face-related activation in the ventral occipito-temporal cortex) challenges existing accounts of face representation, and suggests that activation in these cortical regions per se is not sufficient to ensure intact face processing.