Face-selective processing and the effect of pleasant and unpleasant emotional expressions on ERP correlates

Michela Balconi*, Uberto Pozzoli

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

130 Citazioni (Scopus)


Previous studies have revealed that decoding of facial-expressions starts very early in the brain (≈180 ms post-stimulus) and might be processed separately from the basic stage of face perception. In order to explore brain potentials (ERPs) related to decoding of facial-expressions and the effect of emotional valence of the stimulus, we analyzed 18 normal subjects. Faces with five basic emotional expressions (fear, anger, surprise, happiness, sadness) and neutral stimulus were presented in random order. The results demonstrated that an emotional face elicited a negative peak at approximately 230 ms (N230), distributed mainly over the posterior site for each emotion. The electrophysiological activity observed may represent specific cognitive processing underlying the decoding of emotional facial-expressions. Nevertheless, differences in peak amplitude were observed for high-arousal negative expressions compared with positive (happiness) and low-arousal expressions (sadness). N230 amplitude increased in response to anger, fear and surprise, suggesting that subjects’ ERP variations are affected by experienced emotional intensity, related to arousal and unpleasant value of the stimulus.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)67-74
Numero di pagine8
RivistaInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2003


  • ERPs
  • emotion
  • face-processing


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