Oct 11, 2016

Are you looking at me? Mu suppression modulation by facial expression direction

Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience
Noga S EnsenbergHillel Aviezer

Abstract

Although we encounter numerous expressive faces on a daily basis, those that are not aimed at us will often be disregarded. Facial expressions aimed at our direction appear far more relevant and evoke an engaging affective experience, while the exact same expressions aimed away from us may not. While the importance of expression directionality is intuitive and commonplace, the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are largely unknown. In the current study we measured EEG mu rhythm suppression, an established measure of mirror neuron activity, while participants viewed short video clips of dynamic facial expressions. Critically, the videos portrayed facial emotions which turned towards or away from the viewer, thus manipulating their degree of social relevance. Mirroring activity increased as a function of social relevance such that expressions turning toward the viewer resulted in increased sensorimotor activation (i.e., stronger mu suppression) compared to identical expressions turning away from the viewer. Additional analyses confirmed that expressions turning toward the viewer were perceived as more relevant and engaging than expressions turning away from the viewer, a finding not explained by perceived intensity or r...Continue Reading

  • References46
  • Citations2

References

  • References46
  • Citations2

Mentioned in this Paper

Study
Electroencephalography
Suppression, Genetic
Neurons
Regret
Brain
Facial Recognition
Memory for Designs Test
Face
Facial Expression

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