Effects of long-term object familiarity on event-related potentials in the monkey

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Jun;17(6):1323-34. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl043. Epub 2006 Aug 7.


Although some change in the neural representation of an object must occur as it becomes familiar, the nature of this change is not fully understood. In humans, it has been shown that the N170-an evoked visual potential-is enhanced for classes of objects for which people have visual expertise. In this study, we explored whether monkeys show a similar modulation in event-related potential (ERP) amplitude as a result of long-term familiarity by recording ERPs with chronically implanted electrodes over extended training periods spanning many sessions. In each of 3 experiments, we found larger amplitude visual evoked responses to highly familiar images for the time period of 120-250 ms after stimulus onset. This difference was found when the monkeys were trained in an individual-level discrimination task, in a task that required only color discrimination, and even following a viewing-only task. We thus observed this familiarity effect across several tasks and different object categories and further found that the difference between "familiar" and "novel" became smaller as the animals gained experience with the previously unfamiliar objects across multiple test sessions. These data suggest that changes in visual responses associated with familiarity are evident early in the evoked visual response, are robust, and may be automatic, driven at least in part by repeated object exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*