The challenge of localizing the anterior temporal face area: A possible solution

Vadim Axelrod, Galit Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Humans recognize faces exceptionally well. However, the neural correlates of face recognition are still elusive. Accumulated evidence in recent years suggests that the anterior temporal lobe (ATL), in particular face-selective region in the ATL, is a probable locus of face recognition. Unfortunately, functional MRI (fMRI) studies encounter severe signal drop-out in the ventral ATL, where that ATL face area resides. Consequently, all previous studies localized this region in no more than half of the subjects and its volume was relatively small. Thus, a systematic exploration of the properties of the ATL face area is scarce. In the current high-resolution fMRI study we used coronal slice orientation, which permitted us to localize the ATL face area in all the subjects. Furthermore, the volume of the area was much larger than was reported in previous studies. Direct within subjects comparison with data collected with the commonly used axial slice orientation confirmed that the advantage of the coronal slice orientation in revealing a reliable and larger face-selective area in the ATL. Finally, by displaying the face-selective activations resultant from coronal and axial scanning together, we demonstrate an organization principle of a chain of face-selective regions along the posterior-anterior axis in the ventral temporal lobe that is highly reproducible across all subjects. By using the procedure proposed here, a significant progress can be made in studying the neural correlates of face recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-380
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior temporal lobe (ATL)
  • Face recognition
  • Face-selective areas
  • High-resolution fMRI imaging
  • Multislab scanning method


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