Neural repetition suppression to identity is abolished by other-race faces

Vizioli, L., Rousselet, G.A. and Caldara, R. (2010) Neural repetition suppression to identity is abolished by other-race faces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(46), pp. 20081-20086. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005751107)

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Human beings are remarkably skilled at recognizing faces, with the marked exception of other-race faces: the so-called “other-race effect.” As reported nearly a century ago [Feingold CA (1914) Journal of Criminal Law and Police Science 5:39–51], this face-recognition impairment is accompanied by the popular belief that other-race faces all look alike. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this high-level “perceptual illusion” are still unknown. To address this question, we recorded high-resolution electrophysiological scalp signals from East Asian (EA) and Western Caucasian (WC) observers as they viewed two EA or WC faces. The first adaptor face was followed by a target face of either the same or different identity. We quantified repetition suppression (RS), a reduction in neural activity in stimulus-sensitive regions following stimulus repetition. Conventional electrophysiological analyses on target faces failed to reveal any RS effect. However, to fully account for the paired nature of RS events, we subtracted the signal elicited by target to adaptor faces for each single trial and performed unbiased spatiotemporal data-driven analyses. This unique approach revealed stronger RS to same-race faces of same identity in both groups of observers on the face-sensitive N170 component. Such neurophysiological modulation in RS suggests efficient identity coding for same-race faces. Strikingly, OR faces elicited identical RS regardless of identity, all looking alike to the neural population underlying the N170. Our data show that sensitivity to race begins early at the perceptual level, providing, after nearly 100 y of investigations, a neurophysiological correlate of the “all look alike” perceptual experience.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Caldara, Professor Roberto and Rousselet, Dr Guillaume and Vizioli, Dr Luca
Authors: Vizioli, L., Rousselet, G.A., and Caldara, R.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Journal Abbr.:Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Online):1091-6490
Published Online:01 November 2010
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
449881Social interaction - a cognitive-neurosciences approachSimon GarrodEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E020933/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies