Event-related brain potential evidence for a response of inferior temporal cortex to familiar face repetitions

Stefan R. Schweinberger*, Esther C. Pickering, Ines Jentzsch, A. Mike Burton, Jürgen M. Kaufmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

440 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated immediate repetition effects in the recognition of famous faces by recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and reaction times (RTs). Participants recognized celebrities' faces that were preceded by either the same picture, a different picture of the same celebrity, or a different famous face. Face repetition caused two distinct ERP modulations. Repetitions elicited a strong modulation of an N250 component (∼200-300 ms) over inferior temporal regions. The N250 modulation showed a degree of image specificity in that it was still significant for repetitions across different pictures, though reduced in amplitude. ERPs to repeated faces were also more positive than those to unprimed faces at parietal sites from 400 to 600 ms, but these later effects were largely independent of whether the same or a different image of the celebrity had served as prime. Finally, no influence of repetition was observed for the N170 component. Dipole source modelling suggested that the N250 repetition effect (N250r) may originate from the fusiform gyrus. In contrast, source localisation of the N170 implicated a significantly more posterior location, corresponding to a lateral occipitotemporal source outside the fusiform gyrus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-409
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


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