Brain potentials show rapid activation of implicit attitudes towards young and old people

Arie H. Van Der Lugt, Jane F. Banfield, Roman Osinsky, Thomas F. Münte*

*Corresponding author for this work
5 Citations (Scopus)


While previous behavioural research suggests that attitudes, for example towards elderly people, may be activated automatically, this type of research does not provide information about the detailed time-course of such processing in the brain. We investigated the impact of age related attitude information in a Go/NoGo association task that paired photographs of elderly or young faces with positive or negative words. Event related brain potentials showed an N200 (NoGo) component, which appeared earlier in runs which required similar responses for congruent stimulus pairings (e.g. respond to pictures of elderly faces or negative words) than for incongruent pairings (e.g. respond to elderly faces or positive words). As information processing leading to a certain attitude must precede differential brain activity according to the congruence of the paired words and faces, we show that this type of information is activated almost immediately following the structural encoding of the face, between 170 and 230 ms after onset of the face.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Research
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 06.01.2012


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