Brain potentials reveal the timing of face identity and expression judgments

Thomas F. Münte*, Martina Brack, Olaf Grootheer, Bernardina M. Wieringa, Mike Matzke, Sönke Johannes

*Corresponding author for this work
105 Citations (Scopus)


Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded from multiple scalp locations from young human subjects while they performed two different face processing tasks. The first task entailed the presentation of pairs of faces in which the second face was either a different view of the first face or a different view of a different face. The subjects had to decide whether or not the two faces depicted the same person. In the second task, pairs of faces (frontal views) were presented with the task of judging whether the expression of the second face matched that of the face. Incongruous faces in the view (identity) matching task gave rise to a negativity peaking at about 350 ms with a frontocentral maximum. This effect was similar to the N400 obtained in linguistic tasks. ERP effects in the expression matching task were much later and had a different distribution. This pattern of results corresponds well with neuropsychological and neuroimaging data suggesting specialized neuronal populations subserving identity and expression analysis but adds a temporal dimension to previous investigations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.1998

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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