The Face of Controversy

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Science  28 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5539, pp. 2405-2407
DOI: 10.1126/science.1066018

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Neuroscientists have long puzzled over whether our brains process and represent information according to modules (precise brain areas respond to separate and specific stimuli) or in a distributed fashion (different brain areas cooperate to represent the same stimulus). In an enlightening Perspective, Cohen and Tong discuss two fascinating neuroimaging studies that identify areas of the human brain that represent the perception of human faces and other parts of the human body ( Downing et al., Haxby et al.). As the Perspective authors explain, one group invokes modularity and the other group invokes distributed representation to explain their results, raising the debate about modularity versus distributed representation to new heights.