February 25, 2021

Holistic face recognition is an emergent phenomenon of spatial integration in face-selective regions

Spatial processing by receptive fields is a core property of the visual system. However, it is unknown how spatial coding in high-level regions contributes to recognition behavior. As face inversion is thought to disrupt typical ‘holistic’ processing of information in faces, we mapped population receptive fields (pRFs) with upright and inverted faces in the human visual system. In face-selective regions, but not primary visual cortex, pRFs and overall visual field coverage were smaller and shifted downward in response to face inversion. From these measurements, we successfully predicted the relative behavioral detriment of face inversion at different positions in the visual field. This correspondence between neural measurements and behavior demonstrates how spatial integration in face-selective regions enables holistic processing. These results not only show that spatial processing in high-level visual regions is dynamically used towards recognition, but also suggest a powerful approach for bridging neural computations by receptive fields to behavior.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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