FN400 potentials are functionally identical to N400 potentials and reflect semantic processing during recognition testing

Joel L. Voss, Kara D Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The "F" in FN400 denotes a more frontal scalp distribution relative to the morphologically similar N400 component-a distinction consistent with the hypothesized distinct roles of FN400 in familiarity memory versus N400 in language. However, no direct comparisons have substantiated these assumed dissimilarities. To this end, we manipulated short-term semantic priming during a recognition test. Semantic priming effects on N400 were indistinguishable from memory effects at the same latency, and semantic priming strongly modulated the "FN400," despite having no influence on familiarity memory. Thus, no evidence suggested either electrophysiological or functional differences between the N400 and FN400, and findings were contrary to the linking of the "FN400" to familiarity. Instead, it appears that semantic/conceptual priming (reflected in the N400) occurs during recognition tests and is frequently (mis)labeled as FN400 and attributed to familiarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-546
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011



  • Language/speech
  • Learning/memory
  • Normal volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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