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Neural Correlates of Facial Perception and Emotional Recognition
AdvisorWebster, Michael A.
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Current models of face perception hold that expressions are encoded relative to a norm or neutral face. Anti-expressions are created by projecting an expression (e.g. a happy face) through the neutral face to form the opposite facial shape (anti-happy). The two faces thus differ from the norm by the same physical amount, but may differ in their emotional salience. The role of expressions and anti-expressions as related to the brain response from a psychological aspect is still unknown but imperative to nonverbal communication. This study will examine the nature of this norm-based coding by comparing neural responses to an expression and its anti-expression. The study used electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to test the relative strength of expressions and anti-expressions. We found there was a significant brain response when a subject was presented with a pairing of expressions versus anti-expressions as well as expressions versus neutral faces using real faces. The results of these studies helped to reveal how the brain represents information about faces and facial expressions. These findings can also support further research on the importance of the recognition of expressions, paired emotions and nonverbal communication in patients with neurological disorders that do not have that trigger.