Functional asymmetry and interhemispheric cooperation in the perception of emotions from facial expressions.

Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Science, University of Turin, Via Po 14, 10123, Turin, Italy.
Experimental Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.17). 06/2006; 171(3):389-404. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-005-0279-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The present study used the redundant target paradigm on healthy subjects to investigate functional hemispheric asymmetries and interhemispheric cooperation in the perception of emotions from faces. In Experiment 1 participants responded to checkerboards presented either unilaterally to the left (LVF) or right visual half field (RVF), or simultaneously to both hemifields (BVF), while performing a pointing task for the control of eye movements. As previously reported (Miniussi et al. in J Cogn Neurosci 10:216-230, 1998), redundant stimulation led to shorter latencies for stimulus detection (bilateral gain or redundant target effect, RTE) that exceeded the limit for a probabilistic interpretation, thereby validating the pointing procedure and supporting interhemispheric cooperation. In Experiment 2 the same pointing procedure was used in a go/no-go task requiring subjects to respond when seeing a target emotional expression (happy or fearful, counterbalanced between blocks). Faster reaction times to unilateral LVF than RVF emotions, regardless of valence, indicate that the perception of positive and negative emotional faces is lateralized toward the right hemisphere. Simultaneous presentation of two congruent emotional faces, either happy or fearful, produced an RTE that cannot be explained by probability summation and suggests interhemispheric cooperation and neural summation. No such effect was present with BVF incongruent facial expressions. In Experiment 3 we studied whether the RTE for emotional faces depends on the physical identity between BVF stimuli, and we set a second BVF congruent condition in which there was only emotional but not physical or gender identity between stimuli (i.e. two different faces expressing the same emotion). The RTE and interhemispheric cooperation were present also in this second BVF congruent condition. This shows that emotional congruency is the sufficient condition for the RTE to take place in the intact brain and that the cerebral hemispheres can interact in spite of physical differences between stimuli.

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Available from: Beatrice de Gelder, Jul 28, 2015
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    • "These findings demonstrate a causal link between early right (but not left) M1 activity and visual perception. This link fits with the notion that sensorimotor networks in the right hemisphere support emotion and attention processing (Adolphs et al. 2000; Pourtois et al. 2004; Tamietto et al. 2006; Beraha et al. 2012) and appears also in line with the study of Pitcher et al. (2008) who found that TMS interference with early right somatosensory cortex activity (*100–170 ms) impaired visual recognition of facial expressions. While this latter study has been interpreted as strong evidence for embodied simulation accounts, it should be noted that the paradigm used by Pitcher et al. (2008) could not directly demonstrate the nature of somatosensory activation during emotion perception, because only behavioral data were acquired. "
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    • "Recent evidence suggests that as far as the whole face is concerned , the perception of expressions is influenced by context more than had previously been assumed. In fact, under certain conditions, the presence of a task-irrelevant naturalistic scene can dramatically shift the emotional category recognized in basic facial expressions and bias the valence judgment of facial expressions toward this information (Meeren et al., 2005; Righart and de Gelder, 2006, 2008; Tamietto et al., 2006; Van den Stock et al., 2007; Aviezer et al., 2008, 2009, 2011; Koji and Fernandes, 2010). A recent study also explored the influence of context on the perception of emotions from the eyes (Fischer et al., 2011). "
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