Tag Archives: FFA

New developmental prosopagnosia research hot off the web

While I was looking at the website of the Journal of Neuroscience I found this interesting and important free access article:

Michael Lohse, Lucia Garrido, Jon Driver, Raymond J. Dolan, Bradley C. Duchaine, and Nicholas Furl Effective Connectivity from Early Visual Cortex to Posterior Occipitotemporal Face Areas Supports Face Selectivity and Predicts Developmental Prosopagnosia. Journal of Neuroscience. 30 March 2016, 36(13): 3821-3828; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3621-15.2016


What is face selectivity? I’ll have to do a bit of study on that.

For me the findings of this study are not surprising, even though there are apparently new ideas in this paper about face selectivity and developmental prosopagnosia (DP). As a synaesthete who also appears to be a “super-recognizer” of faces from a family in which precociously high levels of literacy skills are found, I firmly believe that the common thread that runs through synaesthesia, literacy skills and face memory is good to exceptional connectivity inside the brain. My ideas are supported by research that has linked synaesthesia with hyper-connectivity, and has linked dyslexia and DP with problems with connectivity.

There is a tiny little face inside your brain (or at least there should be one)

Linda Henriksson, Marieke Mur, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte Faciotopy—A face-feature map with face-like topology in the human occipital face area. Cortex. Volume 72, Pages e1-e2, 1-178 (November 2015) p.156-167.



Thomson, Helen Your face is mapped on the surface of other people’s brains. New Scientist. January 19th 2016.



Your face is mapped on the surface of other people’s brains. New Scientist. Issue 3057 23 January 2016.



Volume 72, Pages e1-e2, 1-178 (November 2015)
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts Distributed circuits in visual cognition
Edited by Paolo Bartolomeo, Patrik Vuilleumier and Marlene Behrmann



The fusiform face area doesn’t just do faces

Tolga Çukur, Alexander G. Huth, Shinji Nishimoto and Jack L. Gallant

Functional Subdomains within Human FFA.

Journal of Neuroscience.

16 October 2013  33(42) p.16748-16766

doi: 10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.1259-13.2013


As I’ve pointed out before at this blog, I believe that my high ability in face memory is accompanied by higher than average ability in recognizing or remembering the appearance of other types of things, such as body parts, words, cars, plant species, colours and probably other things as well. What this means in practice is that I’m a pretty good speller, reader and writer, I’m great at remembering and recognize faces (even if I can’t always put a name to the face and I don’t always acknowledge that I’ve recognized a person), and I’m also very good at identifiying plants and skilled at categorizing them as weeds or wild native plants or exotic garden varieties, because I can be confident that I know exactly which species the plant is, based on recognizing the shapes and colours of plants. I also believe that high ability in visual memory for many categories of things runs in my family, and I offer this as an explanation for why extraordinary test results for literacy skills and also literacy-related careers seem to run in one lineage in my family. I contrast this genetic literacy gift with an opposite condition which I have also seen running in some families, in which people struggle to express themselves in print, write in a style that mimicks speech and not the writing of others, consistently spell in a way that looks like random phonetic guessing, and who appear to have no ability to remember the way that correctly-spelled words look. If the fusiform face area (FFA) in the fusiform gyrus in the brain is the place that “does” face visual memory and plant visual memory and word visual memory, then having a good one is a definite advantage in many ways.

Perth 80s indie band Holy Rollers perform Above the Law from 1985

How’s your memory for Perth locations from about a quarter of a century ago? Where do you think this video clip was filmed? Where can I buy a pair of those sunglasses?  http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/-Dg97sseKtk?version=3&hl=en_US

I think I’ve still got this single somewhere in the house. 45 RPM. This is just too good a piece of music and a clip with too much nostalgia value to be forgotten, don’t you think? Are you old enough to remember the Perth to Fremantle line powered by diesel engines, with orange-coloured passenger cars? I loved the gentle, deep drone of a diesel engine. So many memories…..

One of the guitars in this track makes a lovely warm sound that is about the same tint of brown as the lead singer’s hair colour. The scenery in the background of this clip is just the type of thing that I often involuntarily “see” in my mind’s eye while I’m doing manual chores around the house, in a form of synaesthesia in which fine-motor movements of the hands trigger visual memories of scenes, often scenes from the distant past, of places which I didn’t visit often or didn’t expect to visit again. There’s obviously a lot of connections in my brain between the part of parts of my brain that do fine motor movement, or maybe procedural memory, and the part or parts of my brain that store visual memories of scenes. It is especially interesting that I’ve got synaesthesia involving visual memories of scenes because the part of the brain that does scene recognition (the parahippocampal place area or PPA) “is often considered the complement of the fusiform face area (FFA)” according to the Wikipedia and some people who can’t recognize faces also can’t recognize scenes. As well as being a synaesthete I get perfect scores in face recognition tests, and am thus probably also a super-recognizer.