Common neural systems associated with the recognition of famous faces and names: An event-related fMRI study

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Person recognition can be accomplished through several modalities (face, name, voice). Lesion, neuro- physiology and neuroimaging studies have been conducted in an attempt to determine the similarities and differences in the neural networks associated with person identity via different modality inputs. The current study used event-related functional-MRI in 17 healthy participants to directly compare acti- vation in response to randomly presented famous and non-famous names and faces (25 stimuli in each of the four categories). Findings indicated distinct areas of activation that differed for faces and names in regions typically associated with pre-semantic perceptual processes. In contrast, overlapping brain regions were activated in areas associated with the retrieval of biographical knowledge and associated social affective features. Specifically, activation for famous faces was primarily right lateralized and famous names were left-lateralized. However, for both stimuli, similar areas of bilateral activity were observed in the early phases of perceptual processing. Activation for fame, irrespective of stimulus modality, activated an extensive left hemisphere network, with bilateral activity observed in the hippo- campi, posterior cingulate, and middle temporal gyri. Findings are discussed within the framework of recent proposals concerning the neural network of person identification.

Nielson KA, Seidenberg M, Woodard JL, Durgerian S, Zhang Q, Gross WL, Gander A, Guidotti LM, Antuono P, Rao SM (2010). Common neural systems associated with the recognition of famous faces and names: an event-related fMRI study. Brain Cogn. 72(3), 491-498.

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