The current study examined whether the repeated visual presentation of novel, meaningless symbol strings triggers rapid changes in event related potentials (ERP). Adult participants performed three versions of a word and symbol string repetition detection task in the same experimental session. Analyses focussed on the occipito-temporal N1 (approximately 150 ms) known to reflect early word-specific processing and stimulus categorisation. While the N1 to words did not change, the occipito-temporal negativity to symbol strings increased over runs and converged with the word N1. Later (approximately 220 ms) more positive occipito-temporal amplitudes to repeated words in the third compared to the first run implied a repetition priming effect. This suggests that symbol string processing changed over time due to visual learning and increased perceptual expertise.