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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 514361, 16 pages
Review Article

Brain Signals of Face Processing as Revealed by Event-Related Potentials

1Departamento de Psicología Biológica y de la Salud, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
2División de Psicología, Colegio Universitario Cardenal Cisneros, 28006 Madrid, Spain
3Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, Centre for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
4Centro de Neurociencias de Cuba, 11600 Havana, Cuba

Received 11 March 2015; Revised 10 May 2015; Accepted 11 May 2015

Academic Editor: João Quevedo

Copyright © 2015 Ela I. Olivares et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We analyze the functional significance of different event-related potentials (ERPs) as electrophysiological indices of face perception and face recognition, according to cognitive and neurofunctional models of face processing. Initially, the processing of faces seems to be supported by early extrastriate occipital cortices and revealed by modulations of the occipital P1. This early response is thought to reflect the detection of certain primary structural aspects indicating the presence grosso modo of a face within the visual field. The posterior-temporal N170 is more sensitive to the detection of faces as complex-structured stimuli and, therefore, to the presence of its distinctive organizational characteristics prior to within-category identification. In turn, the relatively late and probably more rostrally generated N250r and N400-like responses might respectively indicate processes of access and retrieval of face-related information, which is stored in long-term memory (LTM). New methods of analysis of electrophysiological and neuroanatomical data, namely, dynamic causal modeling, single-trial and time-frequency analyses, are highly recommended to advance in the knowledge of those brain mechanisms concerning face processing.