Changing faces

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter, comment/opinion or interviewpeer-review


News & Comment. Many influential models of prefrontal cortex function suggest that activity within this area is often associated with additional activity in posterior regions of the cortex that support perception. The purpose of this cortical ‘coupling’ is to ensure that a perceptual representation is generated and then maintained within the working memory system. Areas in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) and the fusiform gyrus have been implicated as associate areas involved in face processing. In an interesting case study by Vignal, Chauvel and Halgren the functional relationship between these two areas was tested1. In order to confirm the epileptogenic foci prior to resective surgery in a 30-year-old male patient, depth electrodes were implanted into sites around prefrontal, anterior temporal and premotor cortices. While the patient was looking at a blank screen, 50-Hz electrical stimulation of two probes implanted into the right anterior frontal gyrus resulted in the patient’s reporting the perception of a series of colourful faces. These facial hallucinations were described as being ‘…like passing slides, one after the after, linked together’. When asked to look at an actual face during stimulation at the same sites the patient reported transformation of that face (such as appearing without spectacles or with a hat). These findings were related to activity of a cortical network involving the vlPFC and the fusiform gyrus. This paper thus suggests a role in face processing for the vlPFC, evoking working memory processes to maintain facial representations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5
Number of pages1
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd All rights reserved.


  • prefrontal cortex function
  • activity
  • posterior cortex
  • perception
  • perceptual representation
  • working memory system
  • right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex
  • fusiform gyrus
  • face processing
  • epileptogenic foci
  • resective surgery
  • stimulation


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