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Modulation of perception and brain activity by predictable trajectories of facial expressions

Furl, N.; van Rijsbergen, N. J.; Kiebel, S. J.; Friston, K. J.; Treves, A.; Dolan, R. J.; (2010) Modulation of perception and brain activity by predictable trajectories of facial expressions. Cerebral Cortex , 20 (3) pp. 694-703. 10.1093/cercor/bhp140. Green open access

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People track facial expression dynamics with ease to accurately perceive distinct emotions. Although the superior temporal sulcus (STS) appears to possess mechanisms for perceiving changeable facial attributes such as expressions, the nature of the underlying neural computations is not known. Motivated by novel theoretical accounts, we hypothesized that visual and motor areas represent expressions as anticipated motion trajectories. Using magnetoencephalography, we show predictable transitions between fearful and neutral expressions (compared with scrambled and static presentations) heighten activity in visual cortex as quickly as 165 ms poststimulus onset and later (237 ms) engage fusiform gyrus, STS and premotor areas. Consistent with proposed models of biological motion representation, we suggest that visual areas predictively represent coherent facial trajectories. We show that such representations bias emotion perception of subsequent static faces, suggesting that facial movements elicit predictions that bias perception. Our findings reveal critical processes evoked in the perception of dynamic stimuli such as facial expressions, which can endow perception with temporal continuity.

Type: Article
Title: Modulation of perception and brain activity by predictable trajectories of facial expressions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhp140
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhp140
Language: English
Additional information: © 2009 The Authors. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/uk/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Face perception, facial emotion, fear perception, magnetoencephalography, premotor cortex, superior temporal sulcus, visual motion
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/20041
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