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Brain Cogn. 2003 Jun;52(1):52-60.

Facial expressions of emotion: a cognitive neuroscience perspective.

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  • 1Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institutes of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Facial expressions are one example of emotional behavior that illustrate the importance of emotions to both basic survival and social interaction. Basic facial responses to stimuli such as sweet and bitter taste are important for species fitness and governed by simple rules. Even at this basic level, facial responses have communicative value to other species members. During evolution simple facial responses were extended for use in more complex nonverbal communications; the responses are labile. The perception and production of facial expressions are cognitive processes and numerous subcortical and cortical areas contribute to these operations. We suggest that no specific emotion center exists over and above cognitive systems in the brain, and that emotion should not be divorced from cognition.

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