Do I Know You? Insights into Memory for Faces from Brain Potentials

S. G. Boehm*, K. A. Paller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The recognition of faces is central to human social interaction. Recordings of event-related potentials (ERPs) from the brain can shed light on the various processes that occur when a face is recognized and when knowledge related to a specific person is retrieved. ERP contrasts between processing familiar and processing novel faces offer a gateway into investigations of semantic memory for familiar persons. In particular, activity of face recognition units and semantic information units—memory representations of faces and person-related knowledge, respectively—can be indexed by specific ERPs. These potentials thus provide valuable tools for studying the cognitive and neurobiological architecture of person recognition. ERPs have also been found useful for investigating other types of memory for faces. Specifically, important insights have been derived from the study of a category of memory phenomena known as priming. Priming can be revealed in special tests when face recognition is facilitated based on prior experience. Describing the neural processes associated with memory for faces is an exciting focus of research, and future results from this line of inquiry promise to provide further knowledge about face recognition and the various types of memory that can be provoked by a human face.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-329
Number of pages8
JournalClinical EEG and Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Declarative Memory
  • Explicit Memory
  • Face Recognition Models
  • Familiarity
  • Implicit Memory
  • Nondeclarative Memory
  • Priming
  • Semantic Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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