The involvement of the "fusiform face area" in processing facial expression

Tzvi Ganel, Kenneth F. Valyear, Yonatan Goshen-Gottstein, Melvyn A. Goodale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


We conducted an fMRI investigation to test the widely accepted notion that the fusiform face area (FFA) mediates the processing of facial identity but not expression. Participants attended either to the identity or to the expression of the same set of faces. If the processing of identity is neuroanatomically dissociable from that of expression, then one might expect the FFA to show higher activation when processing identity as opposed to expression. Contrary to this prediction, the FFA showed higher activation for judgments of expression. Furthermore, the FFA was sensitive to variations in expression even when attention was directed to identity. Finally, an independent observation showed higher activation in the FFA for passive viewing of faces when expression was varied as compared to when it remained constant. These findings suggest an interactive network for the processing of expression and identity, in which information about expression is computed from the unique structure of individual faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1654
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion
  • Faces
  • Facial identity
  • Selective attention
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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