A multimodal investigation of dynamic face perception using functional magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography

  • Elaine Foley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Motion is an important aspect of face perception that has been largely neglected to date. Many of the established findings are based on studies that use static facial
images, which do not reflect the unique temporal dynamics available from seeing a moving face. In the present thesis a set of naturalistic dynamic facial emotional
expressions was purposely created and used to investigate the neural structures involved in the perception of dynamic facial expressions of emotion, with both functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Through fMRI and connectivity analysis, a dynamic face perception network was identified, which is demonstrated to extend the distributed neural system for face
perception (Haxby et al.,2000). Measures of effective connectivity between these regions revealed that dynamic facial stimuli were associated with specific increases in
connectivity between early visual regions, such as inferior occipital gyri and superior temporal sulci, along with coupling between superior temporal sulci and amygdalae, as well as with inferior frontal gyri. MEG and Synthetic Aperture Magnetometry (SAM) were used to examine the spatiotemporal profile of neurophysiological activity
within this dynamic face perception network. SAM analysis revealed a number of regions showing differential activation to dynamic versus static faces in the distributed
face network, characterised by decreases in cortical oscillatory power in the beta band, which were spatially coincident with those regions that were previously identified with fMRI. These findings support the presence of a distributed network of cortical regions that mediate the perception of dynamic facial expressions, with the fMRI data providing information on the spatial co-ordinates paralleled by the MEG
data, which indicate the temporal dynamics within this network. This integrated multimodal approach offers both excellent spatial and temporal resolution, thereby
providing an opportunity to explore dynamic brain activity and connectivity during face processing.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGeorgina M Rippon (Supervisor) & Carl Senior (Supervisor)


  • Face perception
  • functional magnetic
  • resonance imaging
  • Magnetoencephalography

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