Does the face-specific N170 component reflect the activity of a specialized eye processor?

Neuroreport. 1998 Sep 14;9(13):2945-8. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199809140-00005.


Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to intact faces and to faces without eyes were compared to ERPs elicited by houses to find out whether the face-specific N170 component reflects the activity of a cortical eye processor. When compared to houses, face stimuli elicited a posterior negativity (N170) and a frontocentral positivity. N170 amplitude was not affected by the presence or absence of eyes, but N170 was delayed in response to faces without eyes. It is concluded that the N170 is not directly related to the activity of cortical regions sensitive to the presence of eyes, and is more likely to reflect processes involved in the structural encoding of face components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Electrodes
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrooculography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology