Introduction: The right fusiform face area (FFA) is important for face recognition, whereas the left visual word fusiform area (VWFA) is critical for word processing. Nevertheless, the early stages of unconscious and conscious face and word processing have not been studied systematically. Materials and Methods: To explore hemispheric differences for face and word recognition, we manipulated the visual field (left vs. right) and stimulus duration (subliminal [17 ms] versus supraliminal [300 ms]). We recorded P100 and N170 peaks with high-density ERPs in response to faces/objects or Japanese words/scrambled words in 18 healthy young subjects. Results: Contralateral P100 was larger than ipsilateral P100 for all stimulus types in the supraliminal, but not subliminal condition. The face- and word-N170s were not evoked in the subliminal condition. The N170 amplitude for the supraliminal face stimuli was significantly larger than that for the objects, and right hemispheric specialization was found for face recognition, irrespective of stimulus visual hemifield. Conversely, the supraliminal word-N170 amplitude was not significantly modulated by stimulus type, visual field, or hemisphere. Conclusions: These results suggest that visual awareness is crucial for face and word recognition. Our study using hemifield stimulus presentation further demonstrates the robust right FFA for face recognition but not the left VWFA for word recognition in the Japanese brain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience