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Neuroreport. 2005 Feb 8;16(2):133-6.

Specific brain activation in Japanese and Caucasian people to fearful faces.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology, National Center Hospital of Mental, Nervous and Muscular Disorders, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 1-7-3 Kouno-dai, Ichikawa, Chiba 272-0827, Japan. yo.morigu@yahoo.co.jp


Different regions of brain activation, as measured by fMRI, were evident in Japanese and Caucasian individuals observing facial expressions categorized as fearful according to Ekman criteria. Activation was evident in the posterior cingulate, supplementary motor cortex and the amygdala in Caucasians, while activation was evident in the right inferior frontal, premotor cortex and left insula and in Japanese individuals. The results suggest that Caucasians respond to fearful faces in a more direct, emotional way, whereas Japanese do not attach an emotional valence to the faces and therefore activate a template matching system to identify facial expressions. The faces widely used as emotional stimuli therefore are not universally perceived, and cultural specificity should be taken into consideration in designing facial tasks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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