Multiple adjoining word- and face-selective regions in ventral temporal cortex exhibit distinct dynamics

Matthew Boring*, Edward Silson, Micheal Ward, Mark Richardson, Julie Fiez, Chris Baker, Avniel Singh Ghuman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The map of category-selectivity in human ventral temporal cortex (VTC) provides organizational constraints to models of object recognition. One important principle is lateral-medial response biases to stimuli that are typically viewed in the center or periphery of the visual field. However, little is known about the relative temporal dynamics and location of regions that respond preferentially to stimulus classes that are centrally viewed, such as the face- and word-processing networks. Here, word- and face-selective regions within VTC were mapped using intracranial recordings from 36 patients. Partially overlapping, but also anatomically dissociable patches of face- and word-selectivity, were found in VTC. In addition to canonical word-selective regions along the left posterior occipitotemporal sulcus, selectivity was also located medial and anterior to face-selective regions on the fusiform gyrus at the group level and within individual male and female subjects. These regions were replicated using 7 Tesla fMRI in healthy subjects. Left hemisphere word-selective regions preceded right hemisphere responses by 125 ms, potentially reflecting the left hemisphere bias for language, with no hemispheric difference in face-selective response latency. Word-selective regions along the posterior fusiform responded first, then spread medially and laterally, then anteriorally. Face-selective responses were first seen in posterior fusiform regions bilaterally, then proceeded anteriorally from there. For both words and faces, the relative delay between regions was longer than would be predicted by purely feedforward models of visual processing. The distinct time courses of responses across these regions, and between hemispheres, suggest that a complex and dynamic functional circuit supports face and word perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6314-6327
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number29
Early online date7 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021


  • electrocorticography
  • fMRI
  • fusiform-face area
  • intracranial electroencephalography
  • ventral stream
  • visual word-form area


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