Distinct and overlapping fusiform activation to faces and food

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Abstract

The fusiform cortex is a part of the ventral visual stream and is typically associated with face processing. Indeed, a subregion of the fusiform has been named the “fusiform face area” or FFA, based on its robust response to faces relative to other objects. In a separate literature, appetizing food has also been shown to activate bilateral fusiform cortex, yet no study to date has directly compared face and food responses within the same paradigm. Here, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare face and food responses in ventral visual cortex and other regions that are typically associated with face processing. We present evidence that a region of the left fusiform cortex (typically associated with face processing) actually responds equally to faces and food. We go on to describe the similarities and differences in location of face- and food-responses in the fusiform, the relationship of fusiform activation to body mass index (BMI), and resting state connectivity of face- and food-selective fusiform. Results are interpreted within a model in which motivational relevance or value influence fusiform response.

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