Encoding of faces and objects into visual working memory: an event-related brain potential study

Bozana Meinhardt-Injac, Malte Persike, Stefan Berti
Neuroreport 2013 September 11, 24 (13): 735-40
Visual working memory (VWM) is an important prerequisite for cognitive functions, but little is known on whether the general perceptual processing advantage for faces also applies to VWM processes. The aim of the present study was (a) to test whether there is a general advantage for face stimuli in VWM and (b) to unravel whether this advantage is related to early sensory processing stages. To address these questions, we compared encoding of faces and complex nonfacial objects into VWM within a combined behavioral and event-related brain potential (ERP) study. In detail, we tested whether the N170 ERP component - which is associated with face-specific holistic processing - is affected by memory load for faces or whether it might be involved in WM encoding of any complex object. Participants performed a same-different task with either face or watch stimuli and with two different levels of memory load. Behavioral measures show an advantage for faces on the level of VWM, mirrored in higher estimated VWM capacity (i.e. Cowan's K) for faces compared with watches. In the ERP, the N170 amplitude was enhanced for faces compared with watches. However, the N170 was not modulated by working memory load either for faces or for watches. In contrast, the P3b component was affected by memory load irrespective of the stimulus category. Taken together, the results suggest that the VWM advantage for faces is not reflected at the sensory stages of stimulus processing, but rather at later higher-level processes as reflected by the P3b component.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"