Experience-dependent coding of facial expression in superior temporal sulcus

Nicholas Furl*, Nicola J. Van Rijsbergen, Alessandro Treves, Karl J. Friston, Raymond J. Dolan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Sensory information from the external world is inherently ambiguous, necessitating prior experience as a constraint on perception. Prolonged experience (adaptation) induces perception of ambiguous morph faces as a category different from the adapted category, suggesting sensitivity in underlying neural codes to differences between input and recent experience. Using magnetoencephalography, we investigated the neural dynamics of such experience-dependent visual coding by focusing on the timing of responses to morphs after facial expression adaptation. We show that evoked fields arising from the superior temporal sulcus (STS) reflect the degree to which a morph and adapted expression deviate. Furthermore, adaptation effects within STS predict the magnitude of behavioral aftereffects. These findings show that the STS codes expressions relative to recent experience rather than absolutely and may bias perception of expressions. One potential neural mechanism for the late timing of both effects appeals to hierarchical models that ascribe a central role to backward connections in mediating predictive codes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13485-13489
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2007


  • Hierarchical bayes
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Predictive coding
  • Top-down processing
  • Visual evoked fields


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