Brain regions sensitive to facial color processing

June 25, 2014
Results of fMRI scanning human brains. Only left FFA is sensitive to facial color differences.

Toyohashi Tech researchers in cooperation with researchers at National Institute for Physiological Sciences have found brain regions sensitive to natural-colored faces rather than bluish-colored face. These regions may contribute to improve understanding others' affection and health from faces.

Facial color provides important clues to recognize a person's emotion and health, and is therefore facial color contains important information for social communication.

Previous research published by Tetsuto Minami and colleagues at the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi Tech based on electroencephalography (EEG) has shown that the face-sensitive event related potential (ERP) component (N170) is modulated by facial color, which suggests that face color is important for face detection (Minami et al. Neuroscience, 176, 265-73, (2011)). Moreover, the sensitivity of N170 was found at the left occipito-temporal site (Nakajima et al., Neuropsychologia, 50, 2499-505, (2012)).

However, it is not clear which region of the brain is involved in facial color processing because spatial resolution of EEG is not sufficient.

Here, Tetsuto Minami and colleagues at Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi Tech and at National Institute for Physiological Sciences, report on the sensitive to color information for face processing.

The present study aimed to identify the brain regions related to facial color processing by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The researchers measured the brain activity from 25 participants during the presentation of natural- and bluish-colored and other scrambled images. Face-selective regions of interest (ROIs) were identified separately for each subject and hemisphere of the brain.

As a result, the bilateral fusiform face area (FFA) and occipital face area (OFA) were identified as brain areas that were activated more to natural-colored faces than to natural-colored scrambled images. The ROI analysis showed that the left FFA was sensitive to facial color, whereas the right FFA was not. Furthermore, the right and left OFA were insensitive to facial color. Thus, we have a special neural processing for facial color information at the left fusiform area of the cortex.

Explore further: Researchers uncover how the brain processes faces

More information: Kae Nakajima et al. "Facial color processing in the face-selective regions: An fMRI study." Human Brain Mapping Published online ahead of print, 23 Apr 2014). DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22535

Related Stories

How the brain pays attention (w/ video)

April 10, 2014

Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you're seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match.

Recommended for you

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

No cable spaghetti in the brain

November 24, 2015

Our brain is a mysterious machine. Billions of nerve cells are connected such that they store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library. To this date, many details remain unclear, for instance ...

Neurons encoding hand shapes identified in human brain

November 23, 2015

Neural prosthetic devices, which include small electrode arrays implanted in the brain, can allow paralyzed patients to control the movement of a robotic limb, whether that limb is attached to the individual or not. In May ...

Wireless sensor enables study of traumatic brain injury

November 23, 2015

A new system that uses a wireless implant has been shown to record for the first time how brain tissue deforms when subjected to the kind of shock that causes blast-induced trauma commonly seen in combat veterans.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.