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Is right hemisphere specialization for face discrimination specific to humans?


: Dr Keith M. Kendrick, as above.


Patterns of neural activation during face recognition were investigated in sheep by quantifying altered c-fos mRNA expression in situations where faces (sheep vs. human) can (faces upright) and cannot (faces inverted) be discriminated. Exposure to upright faces selectively increased expression significantly more in the right inferior temporal cortex than in the left, and active choice between upright faces additionally increased expression bilaterally in basal amygdala and hippocampus (CA1–4). Exposure to inverted faces did not lead to enhanced activation in the right inferior temporal cortex, amygdala or hippocampus but instead increased expression levels in the diagonal band of Broca, parietal and cingulate cortices. These results show that discrimination of upright faces in sheep preferentially engages the right temporal cortex, as it does in humans, and that performance of active choices between such faces may additionally involve the basal amygdala and hippocampus.