Impaired conscious recognition of negative facial expressions in patients with locked-in syndrome

Francesca Pistoia, Massimiliano Conson, Luigi Trojano, Dario Grossi, Marta Ponari, Claudio Colonnese, Maria L. Pistoia, Filippo Carducci, Marco Sarà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The involvement of facial mimicry in different aspects of human emotional processing is widely debated. However, little is known about relationships between voluntary activation of facial musculature and conscious recognition of facial expressions. To address this issue, we assessed severely motor-disabled patients with complete paralysis of voluntary facial movements due to lesions of the ventral pons [locked-in syndrome (LIS)]. Patients were required to recognize others' facial expressions and to rate their own emotional responses to presentation of affective scenes. LIS patients were selectively impaired in recognition of negative facial expressions, thus demonstrating that the voluntary activation of mimicry represents a high-level simulation mechanism crucially involved in explicit attribution of emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7838-7844
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume30
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 9 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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