Research on perceptual priming has furthered our understanding of the nature of representations mediating the recognition and categorisation of everyday stimuli such as words, objects, or faces. Despite intensive research however, the neural correlates underlying perceptual priming are poorly understood. The fundamental question we ask here is how perceptual representation systems identify information at both abstract (e.g., “a pen”) and stimulus-specific (e.g., “a particular image of a pen”) levels. We aim to combine priming – a well established experimental paradigm – with state-of-the art cognitive neuroscience methods in order to investigate the following current questions:
What (if any) is the influence of the cognitive task at hand on the operation of these representation systems?
What is the brain lateralization of abstract and image-specific representation systems?
How do image-specific and abstract representations contribute to the recognition of everyday stimuli?
What are the brain systems mediating image-specific and abstractive priming, and what is the time course of their operation?
How exactly is priming related to other repetition-related phenomena, such as perceptual adaptation?
To pursue these questions we use a novel cross disciplinary approach, combining our expertise in event-related potentials (ERPs) and face and names processing, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and word processing, and hemispheric differences and priming paradigms. Overall, we aim at a more complete understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms that drive abstract and specific representation systems which mediate the recognition and categorization of everyday stimuli.
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