The Quest for the FFA and Where It Led

TitleThe Quest for the FFA and Where It Led
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKanwisher, N
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Pagination1056 - 1061
Date Published02/2017

This article tells the story behind our first paper on the fusiform face area (FFA): how we chose the question, developed the methods, and followed the data to find the FFA and subsequently many other functionally specialized cortical regions. The paper's impact had less to do with the particular findings in the paper itself and more to do with the method that it promoted and the picture of the human mind and brain that it led to. The use of a functional localizer to define a candidate region in each subject individually enabled us not just to make pictures of brain activation, but also to ask principled, hypothesis-driven questions about a thing in nature. This method enabled stronger and more extensive tests of the function of each cortical region than had been possible before in humans and, as a result, has produced a large body of evidence that the human cortex contains numerous regions that are specifically engaged in particular mental processes. The growing inventory of cortical regions with distinctive and often very specific functions can be seen as an initial sketch of the basic components of the human mind. This sketch also serves as a roadmap into the vast and exciting new landscape of questions about the computations, structural connections, time course, development, plasticity, and evolution of each of these regions, as well as the hardest question of all: how do these regions work together to produce human intelligence?

Short TitleJ. Neurosci.

Research Area: 

CBMM Relationship: 

  • CBMM Funded