In the face of emotions: Event-related potentials in supraliminal and subliminal facial expression recognition

Michela Balconi, Claudio Lucchiari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Is facial expression recognition marked by specific event-related potentials (ERPs) effects? Are conscious and unconscious elaborations of emotional facial stimuli qualitatively different processes? In Experiment 1, ERPs elicited by supraliminal stimuli were recorded when 21 participants viewed emotional facial expressions of four emotions and a neutral stimulus. Two ERP components (N2 and P3) were analyzed for their peak amplitude and latency measures. First, emotional face-specificity was observed for the negative deflection N2, whereas P3 was not affected by the content of the stimulus (emotional or neutral). A more posterior distribution of ERPs was found for N2. Moreover, a lateralization effect was revealed for negative (right lateralization) and positive (left lateralization) facial expressions. In Experiment 2 (20 participants), 1-ms subliminal stimulation was carried out. Unaware information processing was revealed to be quite similar to aware information processing for peak amplitude but not for latency. In fact, unconscious stimulation produced a more delayed peak variation than conscious stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-69
Number of pages29
JournalGenetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs
Volume131
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Event-related potentials
  • Facial expressions
  • Subliminal stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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