What the human brain likes about facial motion

Johannes Schultz, Matthias Brockhaus, Heinrich H Bülthoff, Karin S Pilz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
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Facial motion carries essential information about other people's emotions and intentions. Most previous studies have suggested that facial motion is mainly processed in the superior temporal sulcus (STS), but several recent studies have also shown involvement of ventral temporal face-sensitive regions. Up to now, it is not known whether the increased response to facial motion is due to an increased amount of static information in the stimulus, to the deformation of the face over time, or to increased attentional demands. We presented nonrigidly moving faces and control stimuli to participants performing a demanding task unrelated to the face stimuli. We manipulated the amount of static information by using movies with different frame rates. The fluidity of the motion was manipulated by presenting movies with frames either in the order in which they were recorded or in scrambled order. Results confirm higher activation for moving compared with static faces in STS and under certain conditions in ventral temporal face-sensitive regions. Activation was maximal at a frame rate of 12.5 Hz and smaller for scrambled movies. These results indicate that both the amount of static information and the fluid facial motion per se are important factors for the processing of dynamic faces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1178
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number5
Early online date24 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • biological motion
  • face processing
  • FFA
  • fMRI
  • STS


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