This study examined the sensitivity of early face-sensitive event-related potential (ERP) components to the disruption of two structural properties embedded in faces, namely, “updown featural arrangement” and “vertical symmetry.” Behavioral measures and ERPs were recorded as adults made an orientation judgment for canonical faces and distorted faces that had been manipulated for either or both of the mentioned properties. The P1, the N170, and the vertex positive potential (VPP) exhibited a similar gradient in sensitivity to the two investigated properties, in that they all showed a linear increase in amplitude or latency as the properties were selectively disrupted in the order of (1) up-down featural arrangement, (2) vertical symmetry, and (3) both up-down featural arrangement and vertical symmetry. Exceptions to this finding were seen for the amplitudes of the N170 and VPP, which were largest for the stimulus in which solely vertical symmetry was disrupted. Interestingly, the enhanced amplitudes of the N170 and VPP are consistent with a drop in behavioral performance on the orientation judgment for this stimulus.

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