Stepwise emergence of the face-sensitive N170 event-related potential component

Neuroreport. 2003 Nov 14;14(16):2035-9. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200311140-00006.


The present study used a parametric design to characterize early event-related potentials (ERP) to face stimuli embedded in gradually decreasing random noise levels. For both N170 and the vertex positive potential (VPP) there was a linear increase in amplitude and decrease in latency with decreasing levels of noise. In contrast, the earlier visual P1 component was stable across noise levels. The P1/N170 dissociation suggests not only a functional dissociation between low and high-level visual processing of faces but also that the N170 reflects the integration of sensorial information into a unitary representation. In addition, the N170/VPP association supports the view that they reflect the same processes operating when viewing faces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology