August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Neural Responses to Object Priming of Fearful and Happy Facial Expressions
Author Affiliations
  • Bonnie Heptonstall
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Marilyn Thorpe
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Buyun Xu
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • James Tanaka
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 1390. doi:10.1167/14.10.1390
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      Bonnie Heptonstall, Marilyn Thorpe, Buyun Xu, James Tanaka; Neural Responses to Object Priming of Fearful and Happy Facial Expressions. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1390. doi: 10.1167/14.10.1390.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Facial expressions are not perceived in isolation, but are embedded in a complex perceptual and social environment. Contextual factors, such as body gesture and emotional scene, have been shown to influence the processes of expression recognition. However, it is not known how affective objects influence the underlying neural mechanisms related to how facial expressions are recognized. To explore this question, event related potential (ERP) responses to emotionally primed expressions were recorded. Participants viewed a person with a neutral expression being presented with a positive emotional object (money, birthday cake), or a negative emotional object (spider, gun). The objects appeared at one of two stimulus onset asynchronies (SOA) (0 ms and 500 ms). Following the SOA interval, the neutral expression of the person changed to a happy or a fearful expression. After 1000 ms delay, participants categorized the expression as either "happy" or "fear". The main finding was that "happy" faces elicited a greater positive amplitude around 300 to 350 ms when primed with a positive object (e.g. birthday cake) than when primed with a negative object (e.g. spider). Interestingly, this congruency effect was not found for "fear" faces. Taken together, these results suggest that single objects with strong emotional associations can influence how the brain processes positive facial emotions.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014

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