We are interested in how we can recognize objects of the social world and react to them. As social animals particular objects of the outside world are of special significance to us. Faces arguably are the most important sources of social information in most if not all primate species. It may thus come as little surprise that special machinery in our brains is devoted to analyzing faces and making the results of these analyses available for a wide variety of behaviors. Some of these responses are automatic others voluntary but most of them fall into the category of social cognition or thinking about others. Because of this dedicated machinery we are extremely good at recognizing faces yet this is not the case for a fraction of the population estimated to be about one percent that is face blind prosopagnosic. People afflicted by this disorder an estimated one percent of the general population typically detect the presence of a face but cannot tell one individual from another which results in severe social difficulties. (In fact since many prosopagnosics are not aware of the fact of them being face blind we will not use prosopagnosia as an exclusion criterion during subject selection and since testing for prospagnosia takes much effort and time we will also not exhaustively test subjects prior to the experiments.) The goals of this study are to understand the functions of the different components of the face processing network its connectivity and embedding into other brain regions and the way that information about faces is used for behavioral responses. We will study these questions with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral testing. This technique allows us to obtain structural information about a subject"s brain its connectivity via diffusion tensor imaging (DTI which measures the molecular diffusion of water along neuronal pathways) and functional specializations via functional MRI (fMRI). Subjects will view pictures and movies of objects faces animals and animated characters while fixating on the screen or performing tasks requiring the detection of a particular stimulus or discrimination of stimuli. By contrasting activity elicited by different stimulus categories we can determine which regions of the brain respond more to stimuli of one category say faces than to those of another say houses. By combining this information across a number of studies we will gain insights into the functional organization of the brain for visual stimuli and in particular socially relevant stimuli. By combining this information with connectivity maps obtained by DTI or resting state connectivity analyses we can learn whether regions specialized for a particular stimulus category are preferentially coupled and form a network - and which other parts of the brain they are coupled to.



Eligible Ages
Between 18 and 50
Eligible Genders
Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Study Design

Study Type

More Details

Rockefeller University

Study Contact

Recruitment Office


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