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THE NEURAL CIRCUITRY UNDERLYING THE PEER BIAS IN FACE RECOGNITION IN EMERGING ADULTS
Restricted (Penn State Only)
Master of Arts
Date of Defense:
December 19, 2017
K. Suzanne Scherf, Thesis Advisor
Koraly Perez-Edgar, Committee Member
Reginald Adams, Committee Member
Our previous developmental work indicates that emerging adults, individuals ages 18-25 years, have a peer bias in their face recognition abilities (Picci & Scherf, 2016). Specifically, they exhibit superior recognition for peer faces compared to faces from other developmental groups. Little is known about how the underlying neural circuitry is organized to support this peer bias behavior. Here, we examined neural activation in emerging adults as they viewed faces from a wide range of developmental groups while they were scanned with fMRI. The face categories included children, early puberty adolescent face, late puberty adolescent face, emerging adult (i.e., peer), and parent-age faces. For each participant, we individually defined regions of interest (ROI) bilaterally using each face category contrasted with objects (e.g., child faces-objects, emerging adult faces-objects). We quantified each ROI in terms of the magnitude of response to each category of faces, the number of active voxels, and the locus of activation. We found that the right FFA1 activation was largest in volume when defined by emerging adult faces than by any other face categories. In addition, the emerging adult defined right FFA1 region was in a more anterior location compared to the other face defined FFA ROIs, particularly in comparison to the child-face defined FFA1. Finally, each of the face category defined FFA1 ROIs exhibited a unique profile of activation, which suggest that the bilateral fusiform gyri appear to encode information about the developmental stage of a face in separate, but overlapping, patches of tissue. In sum, the findings suggest that the peer bias in emerging adult face recognition behavior may be subserved by disproportionally larger activation of neural tissue located in an anterior part of the FFA1 (but not FFA2) compared to that elicited by other kinds of faces.
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