Early adaptation to repeated unfamiliar faces across viewpoint changes in the right hemisphere: evidence from the N170 ERP component

Neuropsychologia. 2009 Feb;47(3):639-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.11.016. Epub 2008 Nov 24.


Event-related potential (ERP) studies have shown that sensitivity to individual faces emerges as early as approximately 160ms in the human occipitotemporal cortex (N170). Here we tested whether this effect generalizes across changes in viewpoint. We recorded ERPs during an unfamiliar individual face adaptation paradigm. Participants were presented first with an adapting face ( approximately 3000ms) rotated 30 degrees in depth, followed by a second face (200ms) in a frontal view of either the same or a different identity. The N170 amplitude at right occipitotemporal sites to the second stimulus was reduced for repeated as compared to different faces. A bilateral adaptation effect emerged after 250ms following stimulus onset. These observations indicate that individual face representations activated as early as 160ms after stimulus onset in the right hemisphere show a substantial degree of generalization across viewpoints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult