Functionally dissociated aspects in anterior and posterior electrocortical processing of facial threat
SourceJournal of Psychophysiology, 53, 1, (2004), pp. 29-36
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
Journal of Psychophysiology
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
The angry facial expression is an important socially threatening stimulus argued to have evolved to regulate social hierarchies. In the present study, event-related potentials (ERP) were used to investigate the involvement and temporal dynamics of the frontal and parietal regions in the processing of angry facial expressions. Angry, happy and neutral faces were shown to eighteen healthy right-handed volunteers in a passive viewing task. Stimulus-locked ERPs were recorded from the frontal and parietal scalp sites. The P200, N300 and early contingent negativity variation (eCNV) components of the electric brain potentials were investigated. Analyses revealed statistical significant reductions in P200 amplitudes for the angry facial expression on both frontal and parietal electrode sites. Furthermore, apart from being strongly associated with the anterior P200, the N300 showed to be more negative for the angry facial expression in the anterior regions also. Finally, the eCNV was more pronounced over the parietal sites for the angry facial expressions. The present study demonstrated specific electrocortical correlates underlying the processing of angry facial expressions in the anterior and posterior brain sectors. The P200 is argued to indicate valence tagging by a fast and early detection mechanism. The lowered N300 with an anterior distribution for the angry facial expressions indicates more elaborate evaluation of stimulus relevance. The fact that the P200 and the N300 are highly correlated suggests that they reflect different stages of the same anterior evaluation mechanism. The more pronounced posterior eCNV suggests sustained attention to socially threatening information.
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