Face-specific neural processes in the human brain have been localized to multiple anatomical structures and associated with diverse and dynamic social functions. The question of how various face-related systems and functions may be bound together remains an active area of investigation. We hypothesize that face processing may be associated with specific frequency band oscillations that serve to integrate distributed face processing systems. Using a multimodal imaging approach, including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), simultaneous signals were acquired during face and object picture viewing. As expected for face processing, hemodynamic activity in the right occipital face area (OFA) increased during face viewing compared to object viewing, and in a subset of participants, the expected N170 EEG response was observed for faces. Based on recently reported associations between the theta band and visual processing, we hypothesized that increased hemodynamic activity in a face processing area would also be associated with greater theta-band activity originating in the same area. Consistent with our hypothesis, theta-band oscillations were also localized to the right OFA for faces, whereas alpha- and beta-band oscillations were not. Together, these findings suggest that theta-band oscillations originating in the OFA may be part of the distributed face-specific processing mechanism.
- Face perception
- Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
- Occipital face area
- Source localization
- Theta band