The purpose of this study was to investigate electrophysiological correlates related to the recognition of repeated faces in the intact human by means of event-related brain potentials (ERPs). A group of young healthy adults performed a continuous face recognition task, in which 240 unfamiliar faces were flashed upon a computer screen with 80 of the faces being repetitions. The subjects had to classify faces as previously seen and previously unseen faces. The concomitantly recorded ERPs from 19 scalp sites revealed a more positive going waveform for the correctly classified repeated faces beginning at about 280 ms (old/new effect). The same subjects performed a similar task with visually presented concrete nouns as stimuli. The old/new effect in this task showed a similar distribution, amplitude and onset latency. It is thus concluded that the old/new effect is not specific to the materials to be memorized. In contrast, the old/new effect in an implicit face repetition experiment (with the detection of famous persons being the task) showed a different distribution. It is argued that the differential distribution might reflect the different requirements of the two tasks (explicit vs. implicit task). Recent interpretations of the old/new effects are discussed.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)