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Front Hum Neurosci. 2018 May 4;12:186. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00186. eCollection 2018.

Automatic Processing of Changes in Facial Emotions in Dysphoria: A Magnetoencephalography Study.

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Research Center of Brain and Cognitive Neuroscience, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China.
Jyväskylä Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
Translational Neuromodeling Unit, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Zurich-ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Laboratory of Emotion and Mental Health, Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences, Chongqing, China.


It is not known to what extent the automatic encoding and change detection of peripherally presented facial emotion is altered in dysphoria. The negative bias in automatic face processing in particular has rarely been studied. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record automatic brain responses to happy and sad faces in dysphoric (Beck's Depression Inventory ≥ 13) and control participants. Stimuli were presented in a passive oddball condition, which allowed potential negative bias in dysphoria at different stages of face processing (M100, M170, and M300) and alterations of change detection (visual mismatch negativity, vMMN) to be investigated. The magnetic counterpart of the vMMN was elicited at all stages of face processing, indexing automatic deviance detection in facial emotions. The M170 amplitude was modulated by emotion, response amplitudes being larger for sad faces than happy faces. Group differences were found for the M300, and they were indexed by two different interaction effects. At the left occipital region of interest, the dysphoric group had larger amplitudes for sad than happy deviant faces, reflecting negative bias in deviance detection, which was not found in the control group. On the other hand, the dysphoric group showed no vMMN to changes in facial emotions, while the vMMN was observed in the control group at the right occipital region of interest. Our results indicate that there is a negative bias in automatic visual deviance detection, but also a general change detection deficit in dysphoria.


automatic; change detection; dysphoria; emotional faces; magnetoencephalography

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