Electrophysiological correlates of forming memories for faces, names, and face-name associations

Chunyan Guo, Joel L. Voss, Ken A. Paller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The ability to put a name to a face is a vital aspect of human interaction, but many people find this extremely difficult, especially after being introduced to someone for the first time. Creating enduring associations between arbitrary stimuli in this manner is also a prime example of what patients with amnesia find most difficult. To help develop a better understanding of this type of memory, we sought to obtain measures of the neural events responsible for successfully forming a new face-name association. We used event-related potentials (ERPs) extracted from high-density scalp EEG recordings in order to compare (1) memory for faces, (2) memory for names, and (3) memory for face-name associations. Each visual face appeared simultaneously with a unique spoken name. Signals observed 200-800 ms after the onset of face-name pairs predicted subsequent memory for faces, names, or face-name associations. Difference potentials observed as a function of subsequent memory performance were not identical for these three memory tests, nor were potentials predicting associative memory equivalent to the sum of potentials predicting item memory, suggesting that different neural events at the time of encoding are relevant for these distinct aspects of remembering people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Associative memory
  • Dm
  • ERPs
  • Encoding
  • Faces
  • Item memory
  • Names

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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