Face-body interactions in the temporal visual cortex
We perceive a human body as a whole and not as an arbitrary concatenation of a head with a face and a headless body. However, the large majority of cognitive neuroscience studies treat faces and (headless) bodies as separate units. This is also evident in the existence of a large research tradition on face perception and a separate (but less developed) research line on (faceless) body perception. Behavioral and neuroimaging studies in humans suggested, however, interactions between the processing of faces and bodies. In this project, we aim to study systematically visual interactions between faces and bodies in single neurons of areas in the temporal visual cortex of nonhuman primates. First, we will employ fMRI to map patches in the temporal cortex that are activated by visual images of whole bodies. Then, with single unit recordings, we will examine interactions of body- and face stimulus dimensions in the patches revealed by fMRI. We will determine neural interactions amongst multiple patches of the network with simultaneous recordings during performance of a whole body discrimination task, followed by causal tests in which we will reversibly inactivate nodes of the network to reveal the information flow within the network. These studies will relate the different research traditions of body and face processing, and advance our understanding of the integration of face and body information in temporal visual cortical areas.