The sequence of cortical activity inferred by response latency variability in the human ventral pathway of face processing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • National Taiwan University
  • Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  • Veterans General Hospital-Taipei


Variability in neuronal response latency has been typically considered caused by random noise. Previous studies of single cells and large neuronal populations have shown that the temporal variability tends to increase along the visual pathway. Inspired by these previous studies, we hypothesized that functional areas at later stages in the visual pathway of face processing would have larger variability in the response latency. To test this hypothesis, we used magnetoencephalographic data collected when subjects were presented with images of human faces. Faces are known to elicit a sequence of activity from the primary visual cortex to the fusiform gyrus. Our results revealed that the fusiform gyrus showed larger variability in the response latency compared to the calcarine fissure. Dynamic and spectral analyses of the latency variability indicated that the response latency in the fusiform gyrus was more variable than in the calcarine fissure between 70 ms and 200 ms after the stimulus onset and between 4 Hz and 40 Hz, respectively. The sequential processing of face information from the calcarine sulcus to the fusiform sulcus was more reliably detected based on sizes of the response variability than instants of the maximal response peaks. With two areas in the ventral visual pathway, we show that the variability in response latency across brain areas can be used to infer the sequence of cortical activity.


Original languageEnglish
Article number5836
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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