Tuning the developing brain to social signals of emotions

Department of Psychology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 31.43). 01/2009; 10(1):37-47. DOI: 10.1038/nrn2554
Source: PubMed


Humans in different cultures develop a similar capacity to recognize the emotional signals of diverse facial expressions. This capacity is mediated by a brain network that involves emotion-related brain circuits and higher-level visual-representation areas. Recent studies suggest that the key components of this network begin to emerge early in life. The studies also suggest that initial biases in emotion-related brain circuits and the early coupling of these circuits and cortical perceptual areas provide a foundation for a rapid acquisition of representations of those facial features that denote specific emotions.

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    • "An early review states that children have difficulty recognizing neutral expressions, and to our knowledge no recent behavioral studies have addressed the development of this expression specifically (Gross & Ballif, 1991). Our finding of a steep increase in improvement between the youngest and oldest age groups accords with this reported early difficulty and could be explained by a general bias to attend more to emotive faces throughout our social experiences (Leppanen & Nelson, 2009). "
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