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Dev Psychobiol. 1996 Nov;29(7):577-95.

Neural correlates of infants' visual responsiveness to facial expressions of emotion.

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University of Minnesota Institute, of Child Development, Minneapolis 55455, USA. CANELSON@VX.CIS.UMN.EDU


An extensive literature documents the infant's ability to recognize and discriminate a variety of facial expressions of emotion. However, little is known about the neural bases of this ability. To examine the neural processes that may underlie infants' responses to facial expressions, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) while 7-month-olds watched pictures of a happy face and a fearful face (Experiment 1) or an angry face and a fearful face (Experiment 2). In both experiments an early positive component, a middle-latency negative component and a later positive component were elicited. However, only when the infants saw the happy and fearful faces did the components differ for the two expressions. These results are discussed in the context of the neurobiological processes involved in preceiving facial expressions.

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