Global familiarity of visual stimuli affects repetition-related neural plasticity but not repetition priming

Anja Soldan, Eric Zarahn, H. John Hilton, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In this study, we tested the prediction of the component process model of priming [Henson, R.N. (2003). Neuroimaging studies of priming. Prog Neurobiol, 70 (1), 53-81] that repetition priming of familiar and unfamiliar objects produces qualitatively different neural repetition effects. In an fMRI study, subjects viewed four repetitions of familiar objects and globally unfamiliar objects with familiar components. Reliable behavioral priming occurred for both item types across the four presentations and was of a similar magnitude for both stimulus types. The imaging data were analyzed using multivariate linear modeling, which permits explicit testing of the hypothesis that the repetition effects for familiar and unfamiliar objects are qualitatively different (i.e., non-scaled versions of one another). The results showed the presence of two qualitatively different latent spatial patterns of repetition effects from presentation 1 to presentation 4 for familiar and unfamiliar objects, indicating that familiarity with an object's global structural, semantic, or lexical features is an important factor in priming-related neural plasticity. The first latent spatial pattern strongly weighted regions with a similar repetition effect for both item types. The second pattern strongly weighted regions contributing a repetition suppression effect for the familiar objects and repetition enhancement for the unfamiliar objects, particularly the posterior insula, superior temporal gyrus, precentral gyrus, and cingulate cortex. This differential repetition effect might reflect the formation of novel memory representations for the unfamiliar items, which already exist for the familiar objects, consistent with the component process model of priming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-526
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Multivariate linear models
  • Objects
  • Priming
  • Repetition enhancement
  • Repetition suppression
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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