Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Facial plus vocal emotion - watching the brain's enhanced response

From Hagan et al:
An influential neural model of face perception suggests that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) is sensitive to those aspects of faces that produce transient visual changes, including facial expression. Other researchers note that recognition of expression involves multiple sensory modalities and suggest that the STS also may respond to crossmodal facial signals that change transiently. Indeed, many studies of audiovisual (AV) speech perception show STS involvement in AV speech integration. Here we examine whether these findings extend to AV emotion. We used magnetoencephalography to measure the neural responses of participants as they viewed and heard emotionally congruent fear and minimally congruent neutral face and voice stimuli. We demonstrate significant supra-additive responses (i.e., where AV > [unimodal auditory + unimodal visual]) in the posterior STS within the first 250 ms for emotionally congruent AV stimuli. These findings show a role for the STS in processing crossmodal emotive signals.

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