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October 2021

ERPs evoked by viewing facial movements

Author(s): Smith, A., Allison, T.

Journal/Book: Cognitive Neuropsychol. 2000; 17: 27 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2FA, East Sussex, England. Psychology Press. 221-239.

Abstract: Human neuroimaging and event-related potential (ERP) studies suggest that ventral and lateral temporo-occipital cortex is sensitive to static faces and face parts. Recent fMRI data also show activation by facial movements. In this study we recorded from 22 posterior scalp locations in 20 normal right-handed males to assess ERPs evoked by viewing: (1) moving eyes and mouths in the context of a face; (2) moving and static eyes with and without facial context. N170 and P350 peak amplitude and latency data were analysed. N170 is an ERP previously shown to be preferentially responsive to face and eye stimuli, and P350 immediately follows N170. Major results were: (1) N170 was significantly larger over the bilateral temporal scalp to viewing opening mouths relative to closing mouths, and to eye aversion relative to eyes gazing at the observer; (2) at a focal region over the right inferior temporal scalp, N170 was significantly earlier to mouth opening relative to closing, and to eye aversion relative to eyes gazing at the observer; (3) the focal ERP effect of eye aversion occurred independent of facial context; (4) these differences cannot be attributable to movement per se, as they did not occur in a control condition in which checks moved in comparable areas of the visual field; (5) isolated static eyes produced N170s that were not significantly different from N170s to static full faces over the right inferior temporal scalp, unlike in the left hemisphere where face N170s were significantly larger than eye N170s; (6) unlike N170, P350 exhibited nonspecific changes as a function of stimulus movement. These results suggest that: (1) bilateral temporal cortex forms part of a system sensitive to biological motion, of which facial movements form an important subset; (2) there maybe a specialised system for facial gesture analysis that provides input for neuronal circuitry dealing with social attention and the actions of others.

Note: Article Puce A, Swinburne Univ Technol, Brain Sci Inst, POB 218, Hawthorn, Vic 3122, AUSTRALIA


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