Processing of configural and componential information in face-selective cortical areas

Mintao ZHAO*, Sing-hang CHEUNG, Alan C.-N. WONG, Gillian RHODES, Erich K.S. CHAN, Winnie W.L. CHAN, William G. HAYWARD*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated how face-selective cortical areas process configural and componential face information and how race of faces may influence these processes. Participants saw blurred (preserving configural information), scrambled (preserving componential information), and whole faces during fMRI scan, and performed a post-scan face recognition task using blurred or scrambled faces. The fusiform face area (FFA) showed stronger activation to blurred than to scrambled faces, and equivalent responses to blurred and whole faces. The occipital face area (OFA) showed stronger activation to whole than to blurred faces, which elicited similar responses to scrambled faces. Therefore, the FFA may be more tuned to process configural than componential information, whereas the OFA similarly participates in perception of both. Differences in recognizing own- and other-race blurred faces were correlated with differences in FFA activation to those faces, suggesting that configural processing within the FFA may underlie the other-race effect in face recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Neuroscience
Issue number3-4
Early online date2 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council [HKU7440/08H to WGH], by Australian Research Council [DP0877379 to GR], and by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders [CE110001021].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • Configural processing
  • Face perception
  • FFA
  • OFA
  • Other-race effect


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