Evaluating the organizational structure and specificity of network topology within the face processing system

Daniel B. Elbich, Peter C.M. Molenaar, K. Suzanne Scherf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


There is increasing appreciation that network-level interactions among regions produce components of face processing previously ascribed to individual regions. Our goals were to use an exhaustive data-driven approach to derive and quantify the topology of directed functional connections within a priori defined nodes of the face processing network and evaluate whether the topology is category-specific. Young adults were scanned with fMRI as they viewed movies of faces, objects, and scenes. We employed GIMME to model effective connectivity among core and extended face processing regions, which allowed us to evaluate all possible directional connections, under each viewing condition (face, object, place). During face processing, we observed directional connections from the right posterior superior temporal sulcus to both the right occipital face area and right fusiform face area (FFA), which does not reflect the topology reported in prior studies. We observed connectivity between core and extended regions during face processing, but this limited to a feed-forward connection from the FFA to the amygdala. Finally, the topology of connections was unique to face processing. These findings suggest that the pattern of directed functional connections within the face processing network, particularly in the right core regions, may not be as hierarchical and feed-forward as described previously. Our findings support the notion that topologies of network connections are specialized, emergent, and dynamically responsive to task demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2581-2595
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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