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Comprehending body language and mimics: an ERP and neuroimaging study on Italian actors and viewers


Proverbio, Alice Mado; Calbi, Marta; Manfredi, Mirella; Zani, Alberto (2014). Comprehending body language and mimics: an ERP and neuroimaging study on Italian actors and viewers. PLoS ONE, 9(3):e91294.

Abstract

In this study, the neural mechanism subserving the ability to understand people's emotional and mental states by observing their body language (facial expression, body posture and mimics) was investigated in healthy volunteers. ERPs were recorded in 30 Italian University students while they evaluated 280 pictures of highly ecological displays of emotional body language that were acted out by 8 male and female Italian actors. Pictures were briefly flashed and preceded by short verbal descriptions (e.g., "What a bore!") that were incongruent half of the time (e.g., a picture of a very attentive and concentrated person shown after the previous example verbal description). ERP data and source reconstruction indicated that the first recognition of incongruent body language occurred 300 ms post-stimulus. swLORETA performed on the N400 identified the strongest generators of this effect in the right rectal gyrus (BA11) of the ventromedial orbitofrontal cortex, the bilateral uncus (limbic system) and the cingulate cortex, the cortical areas devoted to face and body processing (STS, FFA EBA) and the premotor cortex (BA6), which is involved in action understanding. These results indicate that face and body mimics undergo a prioritized processing that is mostly represented in the affective brain and is rapidly compared with verbal information. This process is likely able to regulate social interactions by providing on-line information about the sincerity and trustfulness of others.

Abstract

In this study, the neural mechanism subserving the ability to understand people's emotional and mental states by observing their body language (facial expression, body posture and mimics) was investigated in healthy volunteers. ERPs were recorded in 30 Italian University students while they evaluated 280 pictures of highly ecological displays of emotional body language that were acted out by 8 male and female Italian actors. Pictures were briefly flashed and preceded by short verbal descriptions (e.g., "What a bore!") that were incongruent half of the time (e.g., a picture of a very attentive and concentrated person shown after the previous example verbal description). ERP data and source reconstruction indicated that the first recognition of incongruent body language occurred 300 ms post-stimulus. swLORETA performed on the N400 identified the strongest generators of this effect in the right rectal gyrus (BA11) of the ventromedial orbitofrontal cortex, the bilateral uncus (limbic system) and the cingulate cortex, the cortical areas devoted to face and body processing (STS, FFA EBA) and the premotor cortex (BA6), which is involved in action understanding. These results indicate that face and body mimics undergo a prioritized processing that is mostly represented in the affective brain and is rapidly compared with verbal information. This process is likely able to regulate social interactions by providing on-line information about the sincerity and trustfulness of others.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:04 Mar 2019 14:27
Last Modified:04 Mar 2019 14:27
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0091294
PubMed ID:24608244

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