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Psychophysiology. 2012 Dec;49(12):1571-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01481.x. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Make a lasting impression: the neural consequences of re-encountering people who emote inappropriately.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.


We can learn about the affective content of the environment by observing the behavior of others; their responses to stimuli tend to be appropriate to the context. To investigate the impact of observing such appropriate, compared with inappropriate, behaviors, we developed a novel behavioral task where participants observed different faces reacting to emotional scenes. We found that affective categorization of a scene was facilitated when it was presented alongside an appropriate facial expression (Experiment 1). Further, we observed that several brain areas in the right hemisphere-the putamen, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex-were more activate when viewing faces that were previously observed emoting inappropriately (Experiment 2). We contend that these areas form a network that codes for the retrieval of affective conflict information generated by observing individuals producing inappropriate emotions.

Copyright © 2012 Society for Psychophysiological Research.

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