Face perception is tuned to horizontal orientation in the N170 time window

C. Jacques, C. Schiltz, V. Goffaux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The specificity of face perception is thought to reside both in its dramatic vulnerability to picture-plane inversion and its strong reliance on horizontally oriented image content. Here we asked when in the visual processing stream face-specific perception is tuned to horizontal information. We measured the behavioral performance and scalp event-related potentials (ERP) when participants viewed upright and inverted images of faces and cars (and natural scenes) that were phase-randomized in a narrow orientation band centered either on vertical or horizontal orientation. For faces, the magnitude of the inversion effect (IE) on behavioral discrimination performance was significantly reduced for horizontally randomized compared to vertically or nonrandomized images, confirming the importance of horizontal information for the recruitment of face-specific processing. Inversion affected the processing of nonrandomized and vertically randomized faces early, in the N170 time window. In contrast, the magnitude of the N170 IE was much smaller for horizontally randomized faces. The present research indicates that the early face-specific neural representations are preferentially tuned to horizontal information and offers new perspectives for a description of the visual information feeding face-specific perception.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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