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Psychology Colloquia: "Distributed neural circuits, not circumscribed centers, mediate both face and word recognition"

Marlene Behrmann, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, will give a talk titled "Distributed neural circuits, not circumscribed centers, mediate both face and word recognition".

In contrast with the claim that there are domain-specific neural correlates underlying face and word recognition, Behrmann will propose that complex visual recognition is subserved by a distributed underlying circuit that becomes tuned, over the course of development, to be optimized, in the left hemisphere, for orthographic inputs, and, in the right hemisphere, for faces. Behrmann will present behavioral and neural (functional MRI/MVPA, ERP) revealing the developmental trajectory from childhood to adulthood of this behavior/brain system, and will show how this system breaks down in adults with neuropsychological impairments (prosopagnosia and pure alexia). Taken together, the evidence will uncover the relative contribution of the nodes of this distributed network and will shed light on the nature of the underlying circuit. The findings will be embedded in a theoretical framework in which the computations for face and word recognition arise from similar mechanisms that become organized, by virtue of competitive and cooperative forces, over the course of acquisition and experience.

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