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Psychon Bull Rev. 2016 Aug;23(4):1150-6. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0974-5.

Altering sensorimotor feedback disrupts visual discrimination of facial expressions.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 W. Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA. adrienne.wood@wisc.edu.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 W. Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA.
3
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.

Abstract

Looking at another person's facial expression of emotion can trigger the same neural processes involved in producing the expression, and such responses play a functional role in emotion recognition. Disrupting individuals' facial action, for example, interferes with verbal emotion recognition tasks. We tested the hypothesis that facial responses also play a functional role in the perceptual processing of emotional expressions. We altered the facial action of participants with a gel facemask while they performed a task that involved distinguishing target expressions from highly similar distractors. Relative to control participants, participants in the facemask condition demonstrated inferior perceptual discrimination of facial expressions, but not of nonface stimuli. The findings suggest that somatosensory/motor processes involving the face contribute to the visual perceptual-and not just conceptual-processing of facial expressions. More broadly, our study contributes to growing evidence for the fundamentally interactive nature of the perceptual inputs from different sensory modalities.

KEYWORDS:

Cross-modal effects; Face perception; Facial expressions

PMID:
26542827
DOI:
10.3758/s13423-015-0974-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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