While brain imaging studies emphasized the category selectivity of face-related areas, the underlying mechanisms of our remarkable ability to discriminate between different faces are less understood. Here, we recorded intracranial local field potentials from face-related areas in patients presented with images of faces and objects. A highly significant exemplar tuning within the category of faces was observed in high-Gamma (80-150 Hz) responses. The robustness of this effect was supported by single-trial decoding of face exemplars using a minimal (n = 5) training set. Importantly, exemplar tuning reflected the psychophysical distance between faces but not their low-level features. Our results reveal a neuronal substrate for the establishment of perceptual distance among faces in the human brain. They further imply that face neurons are anatomically grouped according to well-defined functional principles, such as perceptual similarity.
Faculty, Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health