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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2013 Jun;23(3):373-80. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2012.12.010. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Social judgments from faces.

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Department of Psychology, Princeton University, USA.


People make rapid and consequential social judgments from minimal (non-emotional) facial cues. There has been rapid progress in identifying the perceptual basis of these judgments using data-driven, computational models. In contrast, our understanding of the neural underpinnings of these judgments is rather limited. Meta-analyses of neuroimaging studies find a wide range of seemingly inconsistent responses in the amygdala that co-vary with social judgments from faces. Guided by computational models of social judgments, these responses can be accounted by positing that the amygdala (and posterior face selective regions) tracks face typicality. Atypical faces, whether positively or negatively evaluated, elicit stronger responses in the amygdala. We conclude with the promise of data-driven methods for modeling neural responses to social judgments from faces.

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