Neurophysiological correlates of featural and spacing processing for face and non-face stimuli

Marcello Negrini, Diandra Brkic, Sara Pizzamiglio, Isabella Premoli, Davide Rivolta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


The peculiar ability of humans to recognize hundreds of faces at a glance has been attributed to face-specific perceptual mechanisms known as holistic processing. Holistic processing includes the ability to discriminate individual facial features (i.e., featural processing) and their spatial relationships (i.e., spacing processing). Here, we aimed to characterize the spatio-temporal dynamics of featural- and spacing-processing of faces and objects. Nineteen healthy volunteers completed a newly created perceptual discrimination task for faces and objects (i.e., the "University of East London Face Task") while their brain activity was recorded with a high-density (128 electrodes) electroencephalogram. Our results showed that early event related potentials at around 100 ms post-stimulus onset (i.e., P100) are sensitive to both facial features and spacing between the features. Spacing and features discriminability for objects occurred at circa 200 ms post-stimulus onset (P200). These findings indicate the existence of neurophysiological correlates of spacing vs. features processing in both face and objects, and demonstrate faster brain processing for faces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • face perception
  • object perception
  • holistic processing
  • configural processing
  • EEG
  • P100
  • N170


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