Is it a face of a woman or a man? Visual mismatch negativity is sensitive to gender category

Krisztina Kecskés-Kovács, István Sulykos, István Czigler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated whether gender information for human faces was represented by the predictive mechanism indexed by the visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) event-related brain potential (ERP). While participants performed a continuous size-change-detection task, random sequences of cropped faces were presented in the background, in an oddball setting: either various female faces were presented infrequently among various male faces, or vice versa. In Experiment 1 the inter-stimulus-interval (ISI) was 400 ms, while in Experiment 2 the ISI was 2250 ms. The ISI difference had only a small effect on the P1 component, however the subsequent negativity (N1/N170) was larger and more widely distributed at longer ISI, showing different aspects of stimulus processing. As deviant-minus-standard ERP difference, a parieto-occipital negativity (vMMN) emerged in the 200-500 ms latency range (~350 ms peak latency in both experiments). We argue that regularity of gender on the photographs is automatically registered, and the violation of the gender category is reflected by the vMMN. In conclusion the results can be interpreted as evidence for the automatic activity of a predictive brain mechanism, in case of an ecologically valid category.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA532
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberSEP
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 2013


  • Automatic change detection
  • Event-related potential (ERP)
  • Facial processing
  • Gender
  • Passive oddball paradigm
  • Perceptual categorization
  • Visual mismatch negativity (vMMN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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