The empathic effect on attentional mechanisms (eye-movements), cortical correlates (N200 ERPs) and autonomic behavior (EMG) in emotional face processing

Michela Balconi, Ylenia Canavesio

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaContributo a convegnopeer review


Objective: The present research aims to explore the empathic effect on emotional face processing. Indeed, in addition to specific attentional mechanisms, previous evidences suggest a close relationship between the ability to recognize facial emotions and the emotional empathy. A multi-measure approach was adopted. Participants and Methods: We considered the effect of high vs. low empathic trait (Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale, BEES) on subjects’ performance (response times, RTs), attentional mechanisms (eye-movements, fixation count and duration), cortical correlates (ERP N200 effect), autonomic responsiveness (facial feedback, zygomatic and corrugators activity). Four emotional types (anger, fear, happiness, sadness) and neutral pattern were submitted for an emotional detection task. Results: Empathic trait was observed to be relevant for face detection performance (reduced RTs), the attentional processes (higher eye scanning in specific Areas of Interest, AOIs), ERP “salience effect” (increased N200 amplitude), and autonomic activity (higher facial mimicry). Moreover, a second crucial effect was the direct and strength correlation between these multiple measures. Third, the emotional content of faces, in terms of valence and arousal, showed to affect the subjects’ responsiveness on these multiple measures. Conclusions: We suggested that empathy may function as a facilitator of the processes underlying the comprehension of emotions in face, and a general “mimicry effect” was supposed to explain these results, since we supposed that high empathy is able to influence the cognitive and the autonomic responsiveness, making the subject more skilful in emotional face processing.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)24-24
Numero di pagine1
RivistaJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014
EventoInternational Neuropsychological Society 2014 Mid-Year Meeting - Jerusalem
Durata: 9 lug 201411 lug 2014


  • Facial expression
  • psychophysiology


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