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Anne-Raphaëlle Richoz, Junpeng Lao, Olivier Pascalis, Roberto Caldara; Tracking the recognition of static and dynamic facial expressions of emotion across the life span. Journal of Vision 2018;18(9):5. doi: 10.1167/18.9.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The effective transmission and decoding of dynamic facial expressions of emotion is omnipresent and critical for adapted social interactions in everyday life. Thus, common intuition would suggest an advantage for dynamic facial expression recognition (FER) over the static snapshots routinely used in most experiments. However, although many studies reported an advantage in the recognition of dynamic over static expressions in clinical populations, results obtained from healthy participants are contrasted. To clarify this issue, we conducted a large cross-sectional study to investigate FER across the life span in order to determine if age is a critical factor to account for such discrepancies. More than 400 observers (age range 5–96) performed recognition tasks of the six basic expressions in static, dynamic, and shuffled (temporally randomized frames) conditions, normalized for the amount of energy sampled over time. We applied a Bayesian hierarchical step-linear model to capture the nonlinear relationship between age and FER for the different viewing conditions. Although replicating the typical accuracy profiles of FER, we determined the age at which peak efficiency was reached for each expression and found greater accuracy for most dynamic expressions across the life span. This advantage in the elderly population was driven by a significant decrease in performance for static images, which was twice as large as for the young adults. Our data posit the use of dynamic stimuli as being critical in the assessment of FER in the elderly population, inviting caution when drawing conclusions from the sole use of static face images to this aim.
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