Perceptual expertise impacts preattentive processing of visual simple feature: a visual mismatch negativity study

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Perceptual expertise can be defined as enhanced abilities of discriminating, learning, and recognizing object of special categories. It is unclear whether the perceptual expertise effects occur at the preattentive stage. In the present study, visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) elicited by deviant orientation (90°/270° vs. 0°) for faces, houses, and arrows, respectively, was investigated. Compared with standard stimuli (0° orientation), the orientation changes elicited posterior vMMNs for all deviant stimuli. vMMN amplitudes were similar between houses and arrows, except the significant delayed peak latency for houses. Importantly, compared with houses and arrows, vMMN elicited by the orientation change of faces was significantly decreased and delayed. These data indicated that the perceptual expertise for faces relevant to high-level configural processing impaired the change detection of low-level visual features at the preattentive stage of information processing.

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