Honors & Awards

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral National Research Service Award, National Eye Institute (2016-2018)
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (2012-2016)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Development differentially sculpts receptive fields across early and high-level human visual cortex Nature Communications Gomez, J., Natu, V., Jeska, B., Barnett, M., Grill-Spector, K. 2018; 9
  • Defining the most probable location of the parahippocampal place area using cortex-based alignment and cross-validation. NeuroImage Weiner, K. S., Barnett, M. A., Witthoft, N., Golarai, G., Stigliani, A., Kay, K. N., Gomez, J., Natu, V. S., Amunts, K., Zilles, K., Grill-Spector, K. 2017


    The parahippocampal place area (PPA) is a widely studied high-level visual region in the human brain involved in place and scene processing. The goal of the present study was to identify the most probable location of place-selective voxels in medial ventral temporal cortex. To achieve this goal, we first used cortex-based alignment (CBA) to create a probabilistic place-selective region of interest (ROI) from one group of 12 participants. We then tested how well this ROI could predict place selectivity in each hemisphere within a new group of 12 participants. Our results reveal that a probabilistic ROI (pROI) generated from one group of 12 participants accurately predicts the location and functional selectivity in individual brains from a new group of 12 participants, despite between subject variability in the exact location of place-selective voxels relative to the folding of parahippocampal cortex. Additionally, the prediction accuracy of our pROI is significantly higher than that achieved by volume-based Talairach alignment. Comparing the location of the pROI of the PPA relative to published data from over 500 participants, including data from the Human Connectome Project, shows a striking convergence of the predicted location of the PPA and the cortical location of voxels exhibiting the highest place selectivity across studies using various methods and stimuli. Specifically, the most predictive anatomical location of voxels exhibiting the highest place selectivity in medial ventral temporal cortex is the junction of the collateral and anterior lingual sulci. Methodologically, we make this pROI freely available (, which provides a means to accurately identify a functional region from anatomical MRI data when fMRI data are not available (for example, in patient populations). Theoretically, we consider different anatomical and functional factors that may contribute to the consistent anatomical location of place selectivity relative to the folding of high-level visual cortex.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.04.040

    View details for PubMedID 28435097

  • 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

  • The Face-Processing Network Is Resilient to Focal Resection of Human Visual Cortex. journal of neuroscience Weiner, K. S., Jonas, J., Gomez, J., Maillard, L., Brissart, H., Hossu, G., Jacques, C., Loftus, D., Colnat-Coulbois, S., Stigliani, A., Barnett, M. A., Grill-Spector, K., Rossion, B. 2016; 36 (32): 8425-8440


    Human face perception requires a network of brain regions distributed throughout the occipital and temporal lobes with a right hemisphere advantage. Present theories consider this network as either a processing hierarchy beginning with the inferior occipital gyrus (occipital face area; IOG-faces/OFA) or a multiple-route network with nonhierarchical components. The former predicts that removing IOG-faces/OFA will detrimentally affect downstream stages, whereas the latter does not. We tested this prediction in a human patient (Patient S.P.) requiring removal of the right inferior occipital cortex, including IOG-faces/OFA. We acquired multiple fMRI measurements in Patient S.P. before and after a preplanned surgery and multiple measurements in typical controls, enabling both within-subject/across-session comparisons (Patient S.P. before resection vs Patient S.P. after resection) and between-subject/across-session comparisons (Patient S.P. vs controls). We found that the spatial topology and selectivity of downstream ipsilateral face-selective regions were stable 1 and 8 month(s) after surgery. Additionally, the reliability of distributed patterns of face selectivity in Patient S.P. before versus after resection was not different from across-session reliability in controls. Nevertheless, postoperatively, representations of visual space were typical in dorsal face-selective regions but atypical in ventral face-selective regions and V1 of the resected hemisphere. Diffusion weighted imaging in Patient S.P. and controls identifies white matter tracts connecting retinotopic areas to downstream face-selective regions, which may contribute to the stable and plastic features of the face network in Patient S.P. after surgery. Together, our results support a multiple-route network of face processing with nonhierarchical components and shed light on stable and plastic features of high-level visual cortex following focal brain damage.Brain networks consist of interconnected functional regions commonly organized in processing hierarchies. Prevailing theories predict that damage to the input of the hierarchy will detrimentally affect later stages. We tested this prediction with multiple brain measurements in a rare human patient requiring surgical removal of the putative input to a network processing faces. Surprisingly, the spatial topology and selectivity of downstream face-selective regions are stable after surgery. Nevertheless, representations of visual space were typical in dorsal face-selective regions but atypical in ventral face-selective regions and V1. White matter connections from outside the face network may support these stable and plastic features. As processing hierarchies are ubiquitous in biological and nonbiological systems, our results have pervasive implications for understanding the construction of resilient networks.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4509-15.2016

    View details for PubMedID 27511014

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4978802

  • Functionally defined white matter reveals segregated pathways in human ventral temporal cortex associated with category-specific processing. Neuron Gomez, J., Pestilli, F., Witthoft, N., Golarai, G., Liberman, A., Poltoratski, S., Yoon, J., Grill-Spector, K. 2015; 85 (1): 216-227


    It is unknown if the white-matter properties associated with specific visual networks selectively affect category-specific processing. In a novel protocol we combined measurements of white-matter structure, functional selectivity, and behavior in the same subjects. We find two parallel white-matter pathways along the ventral temporal lobe connecting to either face-selective or place-selective regions. Diffusion properties of portions of these tracts adjacent to face- and place-selective regions of ventral temporal cortex correlate with behavioral performance for face or place processing, respectively. Strikingly, adults with developmental prosopagnosia (face blindness) express an atypical structure-behavior relationship near face-selective cortex, suggesting that white-matter atypicalities in this region may have behavioral consequences. These data suggest that examining the interplay between cortical function, anatomical connectivity, and visual behavior is integral to understanding functional networks and their role in producing visual abilities and deficits.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.027

    View details for PubMedID 25569351

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4287959

  • The Dartmouth Database of Children?s Faces: Acquisition and Validation of a New Face Stimulus Set PLoS ONE Dalrymple, K., Gomez, J., Duchaine, B. 2013; 8 (11): e79131
  • Kids ignoring adults, and adults ignoring kids: An own-age face bias in attentional gaze cueing Journal of Vision Gomez, J., Dalrymple, K., Duchaine, B. 2012; 12 (9)
  • CFMT-Kids: A new test of face memory for children Journal of Vision Dalrymple, K., Gomez, J., Duchaine, B. 2012; 12 (9)

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