More Uses Than You Think

The fusiform gyrus is known to be important in facial recognition. This area of the brain is most associated with prosopagnosia (“face blindness”) in which the ability to recognize faces is damaged. Oliver Sacks and Chuck Close both have this disorder, and apparently there is a large portion of the population that has this disorder but goes undiagnosed.

In a study by Gauthier, Skudlarski, Gor, and Anderson, the fusiform gyrus was found to have larger implications than facial recongition. When car experts and bird experts were shown pictures of cars and birds, respectively, the fusiform gyrus lit up as if seeing pictures of faces.

This indicates that with enough training and experience, this specialized area of the brain can be recruited to recognize and categorize certain objects. Looking at the larger picture, this is more evidence of plasticity and the brain’s ability to adapt “specialized” functions of various cortical areas.

About the author

Ian Park

Ian graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2011 with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. In that same year, he was Director of Photography of a senior documentary thesis film at Wesleyan, which won first place. He recently acted as Director of Photography on a Clinique commercial for a competition--it won honorable mentions. He is currently working as a producer/director/editor of video and other digital content in Soho, NY, as well as working on a soon-to-be-released web series, "Postponed."

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