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Effects of attractiveness on face memory separated from distinctiveness : evidence from event-related brain potentials.

Wiese, H. and Altmann, C.S. and Schweinberger, S.R. (2014) 'Effects of attractiveness on face memory separated from distinctiveness : evidence from event-related brain potentials.', Neuropsychologia., 56 . pp. 26-36.


The present study examined effects of attractiveness on behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) correlates of face memory. Extending previous reports, we controlled for potential moderating effects of distinctiveness, a variable known to affect memory. Attractive and unattractive faces were selected on the basis of a rating study, and were matched for distinctiveness. In a subsequent recognition memory experiment, we found more accurate memory for unattractive relative to attractive faces. Additionally, an attractiveness effect in the early posterior negativity (EPN) during learning, with larger amplitudes for attractive than unattractive faces, correlated significantly with the magnitude of the memory advantage for unattractive faces at test. These findings establish a contribution of attractiveness to face memory over and above the well-known effect of distinctiveness. Additionally, as the EPN is typically enhanced for affective stimuli, our ERP results imply that the processing of emotionally relevant attractive faces during learning may hamper their encoding into memory.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2014 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:28 December 2013
Date deposited:10 March 2017
Date of first online publication:06 January 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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