Neural mechanisms of repetition priming of familiar and globally unfamiliar visual objects

Anja Soldan, Christian Habeck, Yunglin Gazes, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that repetition priming of visual objects is typically accompanied by a reduction in activity for repeated compared to new stimuli (repetition suppression). However, the spatial distribution and direction (suppression vs. enhancement) of neural repetition effects can depend on the pre-experimental familiarity of stimuli. The first goal of this study was to further probe the link between repetition priming and repetition suppression/enhancement for visual objects and how this link is affected by stimulus familiarity. A second goal was to examine whether priming of familiar and unfamiliar objects following a single stimulus repetition is supported by the same processes as priming following multiple repetitions within the same task. In this endeavor, we examined both between and within-subject correlations between priming and fMRI repetition effects for familiar and globally unfamiliar visual objects during the first and third repetitions of the stimuli. We included reaction time of individual trials as a linear regressor to identify brain regions whose repetition effects varied with response facilitation on a trial-by-trial basis. The results showed that repetition suppression in bilateral fusiform gyrus, was selectively correlated with priming of familiar objects that had been repeated once, likely reflecting facilitated perceptual processing or the sharpening of perceptual representations. Priming during the third repetition was correlated with repetition suppression in prefrontal and parietal areas for both familiar and unfamiliar stimuli, possibly reflecting a shift from top-down controlled to more automatic processing that occurs for both item types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-134
Number of pages13
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Jul 9 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Neural repetition enhancement
  • Neural repetition suppression
  • Priming
  • Stimulus familiarity
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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