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Allison Rinne, Dixi Secula, Shelby King, Alyssa Minton, Miriam Chinkers, Hannah Heisler, Greta Glide, Andrew Mienaltowski; The Eyes Have It: Age Differences in Emotion Detection for Open and Closed Mouth Expressions. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):571. doi: 10.1167/18.10.571.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Emotion detection is essential for everyday social interactions. However, advancing age is associated with a decline in emotion recognition performance. The current study extends past research by asking younger and older adults to detect emotion cues on face stimuli presented in peripheral regions of the visual field. Younger (n = 27, age M = 20.6, SD = 2.4) and older observers (n = 28, age M = 70.4, SD = 5.5) were presented with individual face stimuli at three locations (5, 10, and 15 degrees) in the left and right visual fields. Angry and happy expressions with open and closed mouths were morphed to manipulate expressive intensity. The task was blocked by the combination of emotion and intensity, and participants indicated if facial stimuli were neutral or emotional. Although younger adults generally outperformed older adults, emotion detection accuracy was impacted in similar ways for each age group by expressive intensity, the mouth status of the image, and the distance from the central fixation point that the image appeared in the periphery. For angry faces, older adults struggled to detect emotion in low intensity, closed mouth stimuli, suggesting that older adults relied a great deal on mouth cues to inform their judgments. For happy faces, both age groups displayed proportionally more decline in emotion detection for closed mouth expressions at peripheral locations. Across emotion, the findings support an additive benefit of both high expressive intensity and an open mouth when decoding emotion from faces presented in the near periphery. Given that emotion expression in social interaction is more subtle, a general lack of this optimal state may challenge older observers, especially when social targets who are situated outside their central field of view are expressing negative emotion utilizing face regions other than the mouth.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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