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Individual differences in PET activation of object perception and attention systems predict face matching accuracy

Alexander, Gene E.1,4; Mentis, Marc J.1; Van Horn, John D.2; Grady, Cheryl L.1; Berman, Karen F.2; Furey, Maura L.1; Pietrini, Pietro1; Rapoport, Stanley I.1; Schapiro, Mark B.1; Moeller, James R.3

Cognitive Neuroscience

WE sought to investigate how individual differences in the regional patterns of cerebral blood flow (rCBF) relate to task performance during the perceptual matching of faces. We analyzed rCBF data obtained by PET and H215O from nine young healthy, right-handed, adult males (mean age 29 ± 3 years) using a statistical model of regional covariance, the Scaled Subprofile Model (SSM). SSM analysis performed on a voxel-basis for scan subtractions comparing face-matching and control tasks extracted two patterns whose subject expression in a multiple regression analysis was highly predictive of task accuracy (R2 = 0.87, p <0.002). The pattern reflecting this linear combination was principally characterized by higher rCBF in regions of bilateral occipital and occipitotemporal cortex, right orbitofrontal cortex, left thalamus, basal ganglia, midbrain, and cerebellum with relatively lower rCBF in anterior cingulate, regions in bilateral prefrontal and temporal cortex, right thalamus, and right inferior parietal cortex. The results indicate that individual subject differences in face matching performance are specifically associated with the functional interaction of cortical and subcortical brain regions previously implicated in aspects of object perception and visual attentional processing.

1Laboratory of Neurosciences, Building 10, Rm. 6C414, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD 20892

2Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892

3Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.

4Corresponding Author: Gene E. Alexander

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We thank Dr James V. Haxby for generously providing the PET data. Supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Received 30 March 1999; accepted 2 May 1999

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.