Early holistic face-like processing of Arcimboldo paintings in the right occipito-temporal cortex: evidence from the N170 ERP component.Int J Psychophysiol. 2013 Nov; 90(2):157-64.IJ
The properties of the face-sensitive N170 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP) were explored through an orientation discrimination task using natural faces, objects, and Arcimboldo paintings presented upright or inverted. Because Arcimboldo paintings are composed of non-face objects but have a global face configuration, they provide great control to disentangle high-level face-like or object-like visual processes at the level of the N170, and may help to examine the implication of each hemisphere in the global/holistic processing of face formats. For upright position, N170 amplitudes in the right occipito-temporal region did not differ between natural faces and Arcimboldo paintings but were larger for both of these categories than for objects, supporting the view that as early as the N170 time-window, the right hemisphere is involved in holistic perceptual processing of face-like configurations irrespective of their features. Conversely, in the left hemisphere, N170 amplitudes differed between Arcimboldo portraits and natural faces, suggesting that this hemisphere processes local facial features. For upside-down orientation in both hemispheres, N170 amplitudes did not differ between Arcimboldo paintings and objects, but were reduced for both categories compared to natural faces, indicating that the disruption of holistic processing with inversion leads to an object-like processing of Arcimboldo paintings due to the lack of local facial features. Overall, these results provide evidence that global/holistic perceptual processing of faces and face-like formats involves the right hemisphere as early as the N170 time-window, and that the local processing of face features is rather implemented in the left hemisphere.