Research conducted in my laboratory is concerned with the functional anatomy of the human brain. Our methods include functional magnetic resonance imaging, intracranial human electrophysiology, direct cortical stimulation, and scalp-recorded event-related potentials. There are two themes of investigation. The first concerns the processing of complex visual stimuli, such as faces, objects, and letterstrings. Our research has identified discrete regions of the ventral occipitotemporal brain in the perception of faces and of letterstrings. We are now investigating whether these areas are influenced by attentional, semantic, and experiential factors and, if so, whether these influences represent top-down processes. Our work in face perception has recently expanded to investigate lateral temporal lobe regions that appear involved in processing dynamic aspects of visual stimuli, such as the perception of shifting gaze within an otherwise static face. In particular, we are interested in whether this lateral temporal region contributes to processing of complex biological cues that form a substrate for social perception.
A second research theme has investigated the function of prefrontal cortex, particularly in the development of predictions or expectations, and in the processing of novel stimuli. In recent years, we have integrated the two research themes, by investigating differential response of prefrontal cortex and extrastriate visual cortex in the processing of complex stimuli that subjects must remember, or must discriminate among.
In addition, my laboratory has maintained an active interest in the physiological relationship between event-related potentials measured with electrophysiological methods and the hemodynamic response measured with imaging methods. We have also recently published several papers that have investigated statistical properties of the hemodynamic response that have important consequences for event-related fMRI designs.
Dolcos, F. & McCarthy, G. (2006). Brain systems mediating cognitive interference by emotional distraction. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26(7), 2072-9.
Shultz, S., & McCarthy, G. (2011). Goal-directed actions activate the face-sensitive posterior superior temporal sulcus and fusiform gyrus in the absence of human-like perceptual cues. Cerebral Cortex.
He, Y., Johnson, M. K., Dovidio, J. F., & McCarthy, G. (2009). The relation between race-related implicit associations and scalp-recorded neural activity evoked by faces from different races. Social Neuroscience, 4(5), 426-42.
Deen, B. & McCarthy, G. (2010). Reading about the actions of others: Biological motion imagery and action congruency influence brain activity. Neuropsychologia, 48(6), 1607-15.
Engell, A. D. & McCarthy, G. (2010). Selective attention modulates face-specific induced gamma oscillations recorded from ventral occipitotemporal cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30(26), 8780-6.