Human face preference in gamma-frequency EEG activity

Elana Zion-Golumbic, Tal Golan, David Anaki, Shlomo Bentin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Previous studies demonstrated that induced EEG activity in the gamma band (iGBA) plays an important role in object recognition and is modulated by stimulus familiarity and its compatibility with pre-existent representations. In the present study we investigated the modulation of iGBA by the degree of familiarity and perceptual expertise that observers have with stimuli from different categories. Specifically, we compared iGBA in response to human faces versus stimuli which subjects are not expert with (ape faces, human hands, buildings and watches). iGBA elicited by human faces was higher and peaked earlier than that elicited by all other categories, which did not differ significantly from each other. These findings can be accounted for by two characteristics of perceptual expertise. One is the activation of a richer, stronger and, therefore, more easily accessible mental representation of human faces. The second is the more detailed perceptual processing necessary for within-category distinctions, which is the hallmark of perceptual expertise. In addition, the sensitivity of iGBA to human but not ape faces was contrasted with the face-sensitive N170-effect, which was similar for human and ape faces. In concert with previous studies, this dissociation suggests a multi-level neuronal model of face recognition, manifested by these two electrophysiological measures, discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1980-1987
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


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