Perceptual Priming


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:

  1. What (if any) is the influence of the cognitive task at hand on the operation of these representation systems?
  2. What is the brain lateralization of abstract and image-specific representation systems?
  3. How do image-specific and abstract representations contribute to the recognition of everyday stimuli?
  4. What are the brain systems mediating image-specific and abstractive priming, and what is the time course of their operation?
  5. 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.

Selected Relevant Publications

Bindemann, M., Burton, A.M., Leuthold, H., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2008). Brain potential correlates of face recognition: Geometric distortions and the N250r brain response to stimulus repetitions. Psychophysiology, 45, 535-544.

Cooper, T.J., Harvey, M., Lavidor, M., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2007). Hemispheric asymmetries in image-specific and abstractive priming of famous faces: Evidence from reaction times and event-related brain potentials. Neuropsychologia, 45, 2910-2921.

Faerber, S. J., Kaufmann, J. M., & Schweinberger, S. R. (2015). Early temporal negativity is sensitive to perceived (rather than physical) facial identity. Neuropsychologia, 75(C), 132-142. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.05.023 (Link to PDF)

Itz, M.L., Schweinberger, S.R., & Kaufmann, J.M. (2018). Familiar face priming: The role of second-order configuration and individual face recognition abilities. Perception, 47(2), 185-196. (Link to PDF)

Pobric, G., Schweinberger, S.R., & Lavidor, M. (2007). Magnetic stimulation of the right visual cortex impairs form specific priming. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1013-1020.

Lavidor, M. & Ellis, A. W. (2003b). Orthographic and phonological priming in the two cerebral hemispheres. Laterality, 8, 201-223.

Kaiser, D., Walther, C., Schweinberger, S.R., & Kovács, G. (2013). Dissociating the neural bases of repetition-priming and adaptation in the human brain for faces. Journal of Neurophysiology, 110, 2727-2738. (Link to PDF)

Neumann, M.F., Schweinberger, S.R., Wiese, H., & Burton, A.M. (2007). ERP correlates of repetition priming for ignored faces. NeuroReport, 18, 1305-1309

Ramsay, A.L., Kaufmann, J.M., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2004). An ERP study of featural and abstractive repetition priming of written names in the cerebral hemispheres. ECVP 2004 European Conference of Visual Perception, Budapest, August 22-26, 2004. Perception, 33.

Schweinberger, S.R., Kaufmann, J.M., Moratti, S., Keil, A. & Burton A.M. (2007). Brain Responses to Repetitions of Human and Animal Faces, Inverted Faces, and Objects – An MEG study. Brain Research, 1184, 226-233.

Schweinberger, S.R., & Neumann, M.F. (2016). Repetition effects in human ERPs to faces. Cortex, 80, 141-153. (Link to PDF)

Schweinberger, S.R., Ramsay, A.L., & Kaufmann, J.M. (2006). Hemispheric asymmetries in font-specific and abstractive priming of written personal names: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Brain Research, 1117, 195-205.

Walther, C., Schweinberger, S.R., Kaiser, D., Kovács, G. (2013). Neural correlates of priming and adaptation in familiar face perception. Cortex, 49(7), 1963-1977

Walther, C., Schweinberger, S.R., Kovács, G. (2013). Adaptor identity modulates adaptation effects in familiar face identification and their neural correlates. PLoS One; 8(8): e70525