Effective Connectivity from Early Visual Cortex to Posterior Occipitotemporal Face Areas Supports Face Selectivity and Predicts Developmental Prosopagnosia.
Lohse M., Garrido L., Driver J., Dolan RJ., Duchaine BC., Furl N.
UNLABELLED: Face processing is mediated by interactions between functional areas in the occipital and temporal lobe, and the fusiform face area (FFA) and anterior temporal lobe play key roles in the recognition of facial identity. Individuals with developmental prosopagnosia (DP), a lifelong face recognition impairment, have been shown to have structural and functional neuronal alterations in these areas. The present study investigated how face selectivity is generated in participants with normal face processing, and how functional abnormalities associated with DP, arise as a function of network connectivity. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and dynamic causal modeling, we examined effective connectivity in normal participants by assessing network models that include early visual cortex (EVC) and face-selective areas and then investigated the integrity of this connectivity in participants with DP. Results showed that a feedforward architecture from EVC to the occipital face area, EVC to FFA, and EVC to posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) best explained how face selectivity arises in both controls and participants with DP. In this architecture, the DP group showed reduced connection strengths on feedforward connections carrying face information from EVC to FFA and EVC to pSTS. These altered network dynamics in DP contribute to the diminished face selectivity in the posterior occipitotemporal areas affected in DP. These findings suggest a novel view on the relevance of feedforward projection from EVC to posterior occipitotemporal face areas in generating cortical face selectivity and differences in face recognition ability. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Areas of the human brain showing enhanced activation to faces compared to other objects or places have been extensively studied. However, the factors leading to this face selectively have remained mostly unknown. We show that effective connectivity from early visual cortex to posterior occipitotemporal face areas gives rise to face selectivity. Furthermore, people with developmental prosopagnosia, a lifelong face recognition impairment, have reduced face selectivity in the posterior occipitotemporal face areas and left anterior temporal lobe. We show that this reduced face selectivity can be predicted by effective connectivity from early visual cortex to posterior occipitotemporal face areas. This study presents the first network-based account of how face selectivity arises in the human brain.