Visual recognition of faces, objects, and words using degraded stimuli: Where and when it occurs

Alan J. Pegna, Asaid Khateb, Christoph M. Michel, Theodor Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied time course and cerebral localisation of word, object, and face recognition using event-related potentials (ERPs) and source localisation techniques. To compare activation rates of these three categories, we used degraded images that easily pop out without any change in the physical features of the stimuli, once the meaning is revealed. Comparisons before and after identification show additional periods of activation beginning at 100 msec for faces and at around 200 msec for objects and words. For faces, this activation occurs predominantly in right temporal areas, whereas for objects, the specific time period gives rise to bilateral posterior but right dominant foci. Finally, words show a maximum area of activation in the left temporooccipital area at their specific time period. These results provide unequivocal evidence that when effects of low-level visual features are circumvented, faces, objects, and words are not only distinct in terms of their anatomic routes, but also in terms of their times of processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-311
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Event-related potentials
  • Gestalt, attention
  • Perception
  • Source localisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Anatomy


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