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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57325. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057325. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Individual differences in the recognition of facial expressions: an event-related potentials study.

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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


Previous studies have shown that early posterior components of event-related potentials (ERPs) are modulated by facial expressions. The goal of the current study was to investigate individual differences in the recognition of facial expressions by examining the relationship between ERP components and the discrimination of facial expressions. Pictures of 3 facial expressions (angry, happy, and neutral) were presented to 36 young adults during ERP recording. Participants were asked to respond with a button press as soon as they recognized the expression depicted. A multiple regression analysis, where ERP components were set as predictor variables, assessed hits and reaction times in response to the facial expressions as dependent variables. The N170 amplitudes significantly predicted for accuracy of angry and happy expressions, and the N170 latencies were predictive for accuracy of neutral expressions. The P2 amplitudes significantly predicted reaction time. The P2 latencies significantly predicted reaction times only for neutral faces. These results suggest that individual differences in the recognition of facial expressions emerge from early components in visual processing.

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