Neural correlates of perceptual contributions to nondeclarative memory for faces

Stephan G. Boehm*, Ellen C. Klostermann, Ken A. Paller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Face priming is a nondeclarative memory phenomenon that can be observed when recognition is facilitated for a recently encountered face. This data-driven form of priming is distinct from conceptually driven priming. Moreover, it includes two dissociable components, the facilitated access to pre-existing representations and facilitation in perceptual processing of faces. In the present study, we measured neural correlates of perceptual contributions to face priming with event-related brain potentials. Faces appeared two times (separated by 7-17 s), while participants discriminated familiar from unfamiliar faces. Half of the initial face stimuli were inverted, thereby disrupting perceptual face processing and making possible an assessment of perceptual contributions to face priming. Whereas none of the brain waves previously linked to perceptual processing of faces showed indications of priming, such effects were observed between 200 and 600 ms at left occipito-parieto-temporal recording sites. This electrical activity was present for both unfamiliar and familiar faces. The scalp topography of this effect was consistent with sources within the temporal and occipital cortices of the left hemisphere (based on a LORETA source localization). These findings suggest that priming of perceptual face processing is subserved by prolonged neural activity from 200 to 600 ms primarily in the left hemisphere. We propose that this priming reflects facilitated selection based on second-order relations among facial features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1029
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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