Seeing faces is necessary for face-domain formation

Michael J. Arcaro, Peter F. Schade, Justin L. Vincent, Carlos R. Ponce, Margaret S. Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Here we report that monkeys raised without exposure to faces did not develop face domains, but did develop domains for other categories and did show normal retinotopic organization, indicating that early face deprivation leads to a highly selective cortical processing deficit. Therefore, experience must be necessary for the formation (or maintenance) of face domains. Gaze tracking revealed that control monkeys looked preferentially at faces, even at ages prior to the emergence of face domains, but face-deprived monkeys did not, indicating that face looking is not innate. A retinotopic organization is present throughout the visual system at birth, so selective early viewing behavior could bias category-specific visual responses toward particular retinotopic representations, thereby leading to domain formation in stereotyped locations in inferotemporal cortex, without requiring category-specific templates or biases. Thus, we propose that environmental importance influences viewing behavior, viewing behavior drives neuronal activity, and neuronal activity sculpts domain formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1404-1412
Number of pages9
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


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