The face inversion effect has been used as a basis for claims about the specialization of face-related perceptual and neural processes. One of these claims is that the fusiform face area (FFA) is the site of face-specific feature-based and/or configural/holistic processes that are responsible for producing the face inversion effect. However, the studies on which these claims were based almost exclusively used stimulus manipulations of whole faces. Here, we tested inversion effects using single, discrete features and combinations of multiple discrete features, in addition to whole faces, using both behavioral and fMRI measurements. In agreement with previous studies, we found behavioral inversion effects with whole faces and no inversion effects with a single eye stimulus or the two eyes in combination. However, we also found behavioral inversion effects with feature combination stimuli that included features in the top and bottom halves (eyes-mouth and eyes-nose-mouth). Activation in the FFA showed an inversion effect for the whole-face stimulus only, which did not match the behavioral pattern. Instead, a pattern of activation consistent with the behavior was found in the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus, which is a component of the extended face-preferring network. The results appear inconsistent with claims that the FFA is the site of face-specific feature-based and/or configural/holistic processes that are responsible for producing the face inversion effect. They are more consistent with claims that the FFA shows a stimulus preference for whole upright faces.

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