According to a non-hierarchical view of human cortical face processing, selective responses to faces may emerge in a higher-order area of the hierarchy, in the lateral part of the middle fusiform gyrus (fusiform face area [FFA]) independently from face-selective responses in the lateral inferior occipital gyrus (occipital face area [OFA]), a lower order area. Here we provide a stringent test of this hypothesis by gradually revealing segmented face stimuli throughout strict linear descrambling of phase information [Ales et al., 2012]. Using a short sampling rate (500 ms) of fMRI acquisition and single subject statistical analysis, we show a face-selective responses emerging earlier, that is, at a lower level of structural (i.e., phase) information, in the FFA compared with the OFA. In both regions, a face detection response emerging at a lower level of structural information for upright than inverted faces, both in the FFA and OFA, in line with behavioral responses and with previous findings of delayed responses to inverted faces with direct recordings of neural activity were also reported. Overall, these results support the non-hierarchical view of human cortical face processing and open new perspectives for time-resolved analysis at the single subject level of fMRI data obtained during continuously evolving visual stimulation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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