Reconstructing dynamic mental models of facial expressions in prosopagnosia reveals distinct representations for identity and expression

Richoz, A.-R., Jack, R. E. , Garrod, O., Schyns, P. and Caldara, R. (2015) Reconstructing dynamic mental models of facial expressions in prosopagnosia reveals distinct representations for identity and expression. Cortex, 65, pp. 50-64. (doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.11.015) (PMID:25638352)

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The human face transmits a wealth of signals that readily provide crucial information for social interactions, such as facial identity and emotional expression. Yet, a fundamental question remains unresolved: does the face information for identity and emotional expression categorization tap into common or distinct representational systems? To address this question we tested PS, a pure case of acquired prosopagnosia with bilateral occipitotemporal lesions anatomically sparing the regions that are assumed to contribute to facial expression (de)coding (i.e., the amygdala, the insula and the posterior superior temporal sulcus – pSTS). We previously demonstrated that PS does not use information from the eye region to identify faces, but relies on the suboptimal mouth region. PS's abnormal information use for identity, coupled with her neural dissociation, provides a unique opportunity to probe the existence of a dichotomy in the face representational system. To reconstruct the mental models of the six basic facial expressions of emotion in PS and age-matched healthy observers, we used a novel reverse correlation technique tracking information use on dynamic faces. PS was comparable to controls, using all facial features to (de)code facial expressions with the exception of fear. PS's normal (de)coding of dynamic facial expressions suggests that the face system relies either on distinct representational systems for identity and expression, or dissociable cortical pathways to access them. Interestingly, PS showed a selective impairment for categorizing many static facial expressions, which could be accounted for by her lesion in the right inferior occipital gyrus. PS's advantage for dynamic facial expressions might instead relate to a functionally distinct and sufficient cortical pathway directly connecting the early visual cortex to the spared pSTS. Altogether, our data provide critical insights on the healthy and impaired face systems, question evidence of deficits obtained from patients by using static images of facial expressions, and offer novel routes for patient rehabilitation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Garrod, Dr Oliver and Caldara, Professor Roberto and Schyns, Professor Philippe and Jack, Professor Rachael
Authors: Richoz, A.-R., Jack, R. E., Garrod, O., Schyns, P., and Caldara, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Cortex
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.

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