A specific patch of tissue on the right side of the brain's visual cortex takes
charge of recognizing human bodies and body parts, contends a team of researchers
led by psychologist Paul E. Downing of the University of Wales in Bangor. This
body-processing hub lies near one region already linked to face recognition and
not far from another that specializes in telling one place from another, the
The researchers made their find by studying 19 volunteers with a brain-scanning
device that measures surges and declines in blood flow throughout the brain. Those
changes reflect rises and falls in neural activity. When the volunteers viewed
images of human bodies and nonfacial body parts, a small piece of visual cortex
responded much more vigorously than when they viewed images of various nonhuman
and inanimate objects, Downing's group reports in the Sept. 28 Science.
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