Seeing John Malkovich: the neural substrates of person categorization

David John Turk, A. C. Rosenblum, M. S. Gazzaniga, Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Neuroimaging data have implicated regions of the ventral temporal cortex (e.g., fusiform gyrus) as functionally important in face recognition. Recent evidence, however, suggests that these regions are not face-specific, but rather reflect subordinate-level categorical processing underpinned by perceptual expertise. Moreover, when people possess expertise for a particular class of stimuli (e.g., faces), subordinate-level identification is thought to be an automatic process. To investigate the neural substrates of person construal, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to contrast brain activity while participants judged faces at different levels of semantic specificity (i.e., identity vs. occupation). The results revealed that participants were quicker to access identity than occupational knowledge. In addition, greater activity was observed in bilateral regions of the fusiform gyrus on identity than occupation trials. Taken together, these findings support the viewpoint that person construal is characterized by the ability to access subordinate-level semantic information about people, a capacity that is underpinned by neural activity in discrete regions of the ventral temporal cortex. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1153
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • face processing
  • fMRI
  • fusiform gyrus
  • semantic knowledge
  • person perception
  • fusiform face area
  • temporal-lobe atrophy
  • semantic dementia
  • conceptual knowledge
  • recognition
  • expertise
  • systems
  • objects
  • memory
  • representations


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