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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

April 1, 2003, Vol. 15, No. 3, Pages 462-474
(doi: 10.1162/089892903321593162)
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Neural Correlates of the Left-Visual-Field Superiority in Face Perception Appear at Multiple Stages of Face Processing
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Studies in healthy individuals and split-brain patients have shown that the representation of facial information from the left visual field (LVF) is better than the representation of facial information from the right visual field (RVF). To investigate the neurophysiological basis of this LVF superiority in face perception, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to centrally presented face stimuli in which relevant facial information is present bilaterally (B faces) or only in the left (L faces) or the right (R faces) visual field. Behavioral findings showed best performance for B faces and, in line with the LVF superiority, better performance for L than R faces. Evoked potentials to B, L, and R faces at 100 to 150-msec poststimulus showed no evidence of asymmetric transfer of information between the hemispheres at early stages of visual processing, suggesting that this factor is not responsible for the LVF superiority. Neural correlates of the LVF superiority, however, were manifested in a shorter latency of the face-specific N170 component to L than R faces and in a larger amplitude to L than R faces at 220—280 and 400—600 msec over both hemispheres. These ERP amplitude differences between L and R faces covaried across subjects with the extent to which the face-specific N170 component was larger over the right than the left hemisphere. We conclude that the two hemispheres exchange information symmetrically at early stages of face processing and together generate a shared facial representation, which is better when facial information is directly presented to the right hemisphere (RH; L faces) than to the left hemisphere (LH; R faces) and best when both hemispheres receive facial information (B faces).