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Neuropsychology. 2005 Nov;19(6):739-49.

Patterns of visual scanning as predictors of emotion identification in normal aging.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Emotion identification appears to decline with age, and deficient visual scanning may contribute to this effect. Eye movements of 20 older adults (OAs) and 20 younger adults (YAs) with normal saccades were recorded while viewing facial expressions. OAs made fewer fixations overall, and they made a higher proportion of fixations to the lower halves of faces. Topographical distribution of fixations predicted better OA accuracy for identifying disgust than other negative emotions. Impaired OA accuracy for fear and anger was specific to vision, with normal identification of these emotions in the auditory domain. Age-related frontal-lobe atrophy may affect the integrity of the frontal eye fields, with consequent scanning abnormalities that contribute to difficulties in identifying certain emotions.

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