Different neural mechanisms within occipitotemporal cortex underlie repetition suppression across same and different-size faces.

08 Nov 2017

Repetition suppression (RS) (or functional magnetic resonance imaging adaptation) refers to the reduction in blood oxygen level-dependent signal following repeated presentation of a stimulus. RS is frequently used to investigate the role of face-selective regions in human visual cortex and is commonly thought to be a "localized" effect, reflecting fatigue of a neuronal population representing a given stimulus. In contrast, predictive coding theories characterize RS as a consequence of "top-down" changes in between-region modulation. Differentiating between these accounts is crucial for the correct interpretation of RS effects in the face-processing network. Here, dynamic causal modeling revealed that different mechanisms underlie different forms of RS to faces in occipitotemporal cortex. For both familiar and unfamiliar faces, repetition of identical face images (same size) was associated with changes in "forward" connectivity between the occipital face area (OFA) and the fusiform face area (FFA) (OFA-to-FFA). In contrast, RS across image size was characterized by altered "backward" connectivity (FFA-to-OFA). In addition, evidence was higher for models in which information projected directly into both OFA and FFA, challenging the role of OFA as the input stage of the face-processing network. These findings suggest "size-invariant" RS to faces is a consequence of interactions between regions rather than being a localized effect.