Perceiving age and gender in unfamiliar faces: brain potential evidence for implicit and explicit person categorization.

Research paper by Holger H Wiese, Stefan R SR Schweinberger, Markus F MF Neumann

Indexed on: 01 Oct '08Published on: 01 Oct '08Published in: Psychophysiology


We used repetition priming to investigate implicit and explicit processes of unfamiliar face categorization. During prime and test phases, participants categorized unfamiliar faces according to either age or gender. Faces presented at test were either new or primed in a task-congruent (same task during priming and test) or incongruent (different tasks) condition. During age categorization, reaction times revealed significant priming for both priming conditions, and event-related potentials yielded an increased N170 over the left hemisphere as a result of priming. During gender categorization, congruent faces elicited priming and a latency decrease in the right N170. Accordingly, information about age is extracted irrespective of processing demands, and priming facilitates the extraction of feature information reflected in the left N170 effect. By contrast, priming of gender categorization may depend on whether the task at initial presentation requires configural processing.