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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2014 Jun;14(2):849-60. doi: 10.3758/s13415-013-0225-z.

Emotional scenes elicit more pronounced self-reported emotional experience and greater EPN and LPP modulation when compared to emotional faces.

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Department of Applied Health Science, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, 60187, USA,


Emotional faces and scenes carry a wealth of overlapping and distinct perceptual information. Despite widespread use in the investigation of emotional perception, expressive face and evocative scene stimuli are rarely assessed in the same experiment. Here, we evaluated self-reports of arousal and pleasantness, as well as early and late event-related potentials (e.g., N170, early posterior negativity [EPN], late positive potential [LPP]) as subjects viewed neutral and emotional faces and scenes, including contents representing anger, fear, and joy. Results demonstrate that emotional scenes were rated as more evocative than emotional faces, as only scenes produced elevated self-reports of arousal. In addition, viewing scenes resulted in more extreme ratings of pleasantness (and unpleasantness) than did faces. EEG results indicate that both expressive faces and emotional scenes evoke enhanced negativity in the N170 component, while the EPN and LPP components show significantly enhanced modulation only by scene, relative to face stimuli. These data suggest that viewing emotional scenes results in a more pronounced emotional experience that is associated with reliable modulation of visual event-related potentials that are implicated in emotional circuits in the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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