★ ERP investigation of race processing across multiple face orientations. ★ Effects of rotation on the right-lateralized N170 more important for SR than for OR faces. ★ The N170-ORE disappeared as faces are rotated away from their upright orientation. ★ Differential configural/holistic processing between OR faces and SR faces.
Recent ERP research has indicated that the processing of faces of other races (OR) and same race (SR) as the perceiver differs at the perceptual level, more precisely for the N170 component. The purpose of the present study was to continue the investigation of the race-of-face processing across multiple orientations. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and performance were recorded when Caucasian participants were required to categorize by race Caucasian and African faces presented in eight different angles of orientation. Three main observations were made: (1) the face-sensitive N170 is modulated by the race of faces, being larger in response to OR compared to SR faces; (2) face rotation affected this component in the same pattern for both racial groups; (3) the N170-ORE progressively disappeared as the faces moved away from their canonical orientation at the right hemisphere only. Thus, the current findings suggest that configural/holisitic information is extracted from faces of both racial groups, but that upright OR faces require increased demands.