Scientific article
Open access

Face perception in the mind's eye

Published inBrain topography, vol. 24, no. 1, p. 9-18
Publication date2011

Perceptual filling-in occurs when visual stimuli are recognized in impoverished viewing conditions. Whether missing information is filled-in during face perception and which stages might be involved in this process are still unresolved questions. Because an identity can be brought to mind by seeing eyes only, we hypothesized that missing information might be filled-in from a memory trace for the whole face identity. We presented participants with faces in phase 1 and later we presented eyes-only in phase 2. For some of these eyes in phase 2, the whole face had been presented in the previous phase, for others identical eyes had been presented. Event-related potentials (ERPs) revealed an N170 component that was more negative when eyes were preceded by a whole face in the previous phase compared to eyes preceded by identical eyes-only. A more positive-going late positive complex (LPC) was also found, suggesting enhanced retrieval of face memory representations when eyes were preceded by whole faces. Our results show that pre-existing representations of face identity can influence early stages of visual encoding, 170 ms after stimulus onset. These effects may reflect top-down modulation by memory on visual recognition processes by filling-in the missing facial information.

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography/methods
  • Evoked Potentials/physiology
  • Face/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory/physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests/standards
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual/physiology
  • Photic Stimulation/methods
  • Recognition (Psychology)/physiology
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Young Adult
Citation (ISO format)
RIGHART, Ruthger, BURRA, Nicolas, VUILLEUMIER, Patrik. Face perception in the mind’s eye. In: Brain topography, 2011, vol. 24, n° 1, p. 9–18. doi: 10.1007/s10548-010-0164-8
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0896-0267

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