Conscious and unconscious face recognition is improved by high-frequency rTMS on pre-motor cortex

Michela Balconi, Adriana Bortolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Simulation process and mirroring mechanism appear to be necessary to the recognition of emotional facial expressions. Prefrontal areas were found to support this simulation mechanism. The present research analyzed the role of premotor area in processing emotional faces with different valence (positive vs. negative faces), considering both conscious and unconscious pathways. High-frequency rTMS (10 Hz) stimulation was applied to prefrontal area to induce an activation response when overt (conscious) and covert (unconscious) processing was implicated. Twenty-two subjects were asked to detect emotion/no emotion (anger, fear, happiness, neutral). Error rates (ERs) and response times (RTs) were considered in response to the experimental conditions. ERs and RTs decreased in case of premotor brain activation, specifically in response to fear, for both conscious and unconscious condition. The present results highlight the role of the premotor system for facial expression processing, supporting the existence of two analogous mechanisms for conscious and unconscious condition
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-778
Number of pages8
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • conscious
  • emotion
  • facial expression
  • premotor area
  • rTMS
  • unconscious


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