Perceptual categorization is a fundamental cognitive process that gives meaning to an often graded sensory environment. Previous research has subdivided the visual pathway into posterior regions that processes the physical properties of a stimulus, and frontal regions that process more abstract properties such as category information. The superior temporal sulcus (STS) is known to be involved in face and emotion perception, but the nature of its processing remains unknown. Here, we used targeted fMRI measurements of the STS to investigate whether its representations of facial expressions are categorical or noncategorical. Multivoxel pattern analysis showed that even though subjects were performing a categorization task, the left STS contained graded, noncategorical representations. In the right STS, representations showed evidence for both stimulus-related gradations and a categorical boundary.
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