Professional Education

  • Master of Science, University of Texas at Dallas (2008)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Dallas (2012)
  • Bachelor of Engineering, Vishwakarma Inst of Technology (2002)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing SCIENCE Gomez, J., Barnett, M. A., Natu, V., Mezer, A., Palomero-Gallagher, N., Weiner, K. S., Amunts, K., Zilles, K., Grill-Spector, K. 2017; 355 (6320): 68-?


    How does cortical tissue change as brain function and behavior improve from childhood to adulthood? By combining quantitative and functional magnetic resonance imaging in children and adults, we find differential development of high-level visual areas that are involved in face and place recognition. Development of face-selective regions, but not place-selective regions, is dominated by microstructural proliferation. This tissue development is correlated with specific increases in functional selectivity to faces, as well as improvements in face recognition, and ultimately leads to differentiated tissue properties between face- and place-selective regions in adulthood, which we validate with postmortem cytoarchitectonic measurements. These data suggest a new model by which emergent brain function and behavior result from cortical tissue proliferation rather than from pruning exclusively.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aag0311

    View details for Web of Science ID 000391739900044

    View details for PubMedID 28059764

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5373008

  • Development of Neural Sensitivity to Face Identity Correlates with Perceptual Discriminability. journal of neuroscience Natu, V. S., Barnett, M. A., Hartley, J., Gomez, J., Stigliani, A., Grill-Spector, K. 2016; 36 (42): 10893-10907


    Face perception is subserved by a series of face-selective regions in the human ventral stream, which undergo prolonged development from childhood to adulthood. However, it is unknown how neural development of these regions relates to the development of face-perception abilities. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses of ventral occipitotemporal regions in children (ages, 5-12 years) and adults (ages, 19-34 years) when they viewed faces that parametrically varied in dissimilarity. Since similar faces generate lower responses than dissimilar faces due to fMRI adaptation, this design objectively evaluates neural sensitivity to face identity across development. Additionally, a subset of subjects participated in a behavioral experiment to assess perceptual discriminability of face identity. Our data reveal three main findings: (1) neural sensitivity to face identity increases with age in face-selective but not object-selective regions; (2) the amplitude of responses to faces increases with age in both face-selective and object-selective regions; and (3) perceptual discriminability of face identity is correlated with the neural sensitivity to face identity of face-selective regions. In contrast, perceptual discriminability is not correlated with the amplitude of response in face-selective regions or of responses of object-selective regions. These data suggest that developmental increases in neural sensitivity to face identity in face-selective regions improve perceptual discriminability of faces. Our findings significantly advance the understanding of the neural mechanisms of development of face perception and open new avenues for using fMRI adaptation to study the neural development of high-level visual and cognitive functions more broadly.Face perception, which is critical for daily social interactions, develops from childhood to adulthood. However, it is unknown what developmental changes in the brain lead to improved performance. Using fMRI in children and adults, we find that from childhood to adulthood, neural sensitivity to changes in face identity increases in face-selective regions. Critically, subjects' perceptual discriminability among faces is linked to neural sensitivity: participants with higher neural sensitivity in face-selective regions demonstrate higher perceptual discriminability. Thus, our results suggest that developmental increases in face-selective regions' sensitivity to face identity improve perceptual discrimination of faces. These findings significantly advance understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying the development of face perception and have important implications for assessing both typical and atypical development.

    View details for PubMedID 27798143

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5083016

  • Spatiotemporal changes in neural response patterns to faces varying in visual familiarity. NeuroImage Natu, V. S., O'Toole, A. J. 2015; 108: 151-159


    Increasing experience with a previously unfamiliar face improves human ability to recognize it in challenging and novel viewing conditions. Differential neural responses to familiar versus unfamiliar faces in multiple regions of the ventral-temporal and parietal cortex have been reported in previous work, but with limited attention to how behavioral and neural measures change with increasing familiarity. We examined changes in the spatial and temporal characteristics of neural response patterns elicited by faces that vary in their degree of visual familiarity. First, we developed a behavioral paradigm to familiarize participants to low-, medium-, and high-levels of familiarity with faces. Recognition of novel, naturalistic images of the learned individuals improved with increasing familiarity with faces. Next, a new set of participants learned faces using the behavioral paradigm, outside the fMRI scanner, and subsequently viewed blocks of whole-body images of the learned and novel people, inside the scanner. We found that the face-selective FFA and OFA, and a combination of the ventral-temporal areas (e.g., fusiform gyrus) and parietal areas (e.g., precuneus) contained patterns useful for classifying highly familiar versus unfamiliar faces. Classification along the temporal-sequence of the face blocks revealed an early separation of neural patterns elicited in response to highly familiar versus unfamiliar faces in the FFA and OFA, but not in other regions of interest. This indicates the potential for a rapid assessment of the "known versus unknown" status of faces in core face-selective regions of the brain. The present study provides a first look at the perceptual and neural correlates underlying experience gains with faces as they become familiar.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.12.027

    View details for PubMedID 25524650