The N170 is sensitive to long-term (personal) familiarity of a face identity - Université de Lorraine Access content directly
Journal Articles Neuroscience Year : 2021

The N170 is sensitive to long-term (personal) familiarity of a face identity


The N170 is a large deflection of the human electroencephalogram (EEG), peaking at about 170 milliseconds over the occipito-temporal cortex after the sudden onset of a face stimulus. The N170 reflects perceptual awareness of a face and its onset corresponds to the emergence of reliable face-selectivity in the human brain. However, whether sensitivity to the long-term familiarity of a face identity emerges already at this early time-point remains debated. Here we provide a brief survey of the 45 published studies comparing the N170 response to unfamiliar and familiar (famous, experimentally familiarized, personally familiar and own) faces. Even though effects of familiarity on the N170 are relatively small and inconsistent across studies, this overview indicates that face familiarity significantly increases the N170 amplitude. This effect is especially present for personally familiar faces, learned in natural conditions. In the human brain, effects linked to familiarity with specific facial identities therefore appear to emerge between 150 and 200 ms in occipito-temporal brain regions, i.e., shortly after the onset of face-selectivity but at the same time as the earliest high-level effects of immediate unfamiliar face identity repetition. This observation challenges standard neurocognitive models with a clear-cut distinction between perceptual and memory stages in human face recognition.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
S0306452221000038.pdf (597.46 Ko) Télécharger le fichier
Origin Files produced by the author(s)

Dates and versions

hal-03629076 , version 1 (10-03-2023)




Stephanie Caharel, Bruno Rossion. The N170 is sensitive to long-term (personal) familiarity of a face identity. Neuroscience, 2021, 458, pp.244-255. ⟨10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.12.036⟩. ⟨hal-03629076⟩
32 View
25 Download



Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More