Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques

Faces are critical for social interactions and their recognition constitutes one of the most important and challenging functions of the human brain. While neurons responding selectively to faces have been recorded for decades in the monkey brain, face-selective neural activations have been reported with neuroimaging primarily in the human midfusiform gyrus. Yet, the cellular mechanisms producing selective responses to faces in this hominoid neu- roanatomical structure remain unknown. We report single neuron recordings performed in 5 human subjects implanted with intracerebral microelectrodes in the faceselective midfusiform gyrus, while they viewed pictures of familiar and unknown faces and places. We observed similar responses to faces and places at the single cell level, but a significantly higher number of neurons responding to faces, thus offering a mechanistic account for the face selective activations observed in this region. Although individual neurons did not respond preferentially to familiar faces, a popula tion level analysis could consistently determine whether or not the faces (but not the places) were familiar, only about 50 ms after the initial recognition of the stimuli as faces. These results provide insights into the neural mechanisms of face processing in the human brain.