Individual differences in perceiving, learning, and recognizing faces, summarized under the term face cognition, have been shown on the behavioral and brain level, but connections between these levels have rarely been made. We used ERPs in structural equation models to determine the contributions of neurocognitive processes to individual differences in the accuracy and speed of face cognition as established by Wilhelm, Herzmann, Kunina, Danthiir, Schacht, and Sommer [Individual differences in face cognition, in press]. For 85 participants, we measured several ERP components and, in independent tasks and sessions, assessed face cognition abilities and other cognitive abilities, including immediate and delayed memory, mental speed, general cognitive ability, and object cognition. Individual differences in face cognition were unrelated to domain-general visual processes (P100) and to processes involved with memory encoding (Dm component). The ability of face cognition accuracy was moderately related to neurocognitive indicators of structural face encoding (latency of the N170) and of activating representations of both faces and person-related knowledge (latencies and amplitudes of the early and late repetition effects, ERE/N250 and LRE/N400, respectively). The ability of face cognition speed was moderately related to the amplitudes of the ERE and LRE. Thus, a substantial part of individual differences in face cognition is explained by the speed and efficiency of activating memory representations of faces and person-related knowledge. These relationships are not moderated by individual differences in established cognitive abilities.

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