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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Holger Wiese

Wiese, Holger, Komes, Jessica, Tuettenberg, Simone, Leidinger, Jana & Schweinberger, Stefan R. (2017). Age-related differences in face recognition: Neural correlates of repetition and semantic priming in young and older adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 43(8): 1254-1273.

Author(s) from Durham


Difficulties in person recognition are among the common complaints associated with
cognitive ageing. The present series of experiments therefore investigated face and person
recognition in young and older adults. We examined how within-domain and cross-domain
repetition as well as semantic priming affect familiar face recognition, and analyzed both
behavioural and event-related brain potential (ERP) measures to identify specific processing
stages of age-related deficits. During repetition priming (Experiments 1 and 2), we observed
evidence of an age-related deficit in behavioural priming, and clear reductions of both the
N250r and the N400 ERP priming effects in older participants. At the same time, both
semantic priming (Experiment 3) and the associated N400 ERP effect of semantic priming
were largely intact in older adults. We suggest that ageing selectively affects the access to
domain-general representations of familiar people via bottom-up perceptual processing units.
At the same time, accessing domain-general representations via top-down semantic units
seems to be relatively preserved in older adults.