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Neural mechanisms of reading facial emotions in young and older adults
Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Aging Research Center (ARC), (together with KI).
2012 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 3, no 223, 1-19 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ability to read and appropriately respond to emotions in others is central for successful social interaction. Young and older adults are better at identifying positive than negative facial expressions and also expressions of young than older faces. Little, however, is known about the neural processes associated with reading different emotions, particularly in faces of different ages, in samples of young and older adults. During fMRI, young and older participants identified expressions in happy, neutral, and angry young and older faces. The results suggest a functional dissociation of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) in reading facial emotions that is largely comparable in young and older adults: Both age groups showed greater vmPFC activity to happy compared to angry or neutral faces, which was positively correlated with expression identification for happy compared to angry faces. In contrast, both age groups showed greater activity in dmPFC to neutral or angry than happy faces which was negatively correlated with expression identification for neutral compared to happy faces. A similar region of dmPFC showed greater activity for older than young faces, but no brain-behavior correlations. Greater vmPFC activity in the present study may reflect greater affective processing involved in reading happy compared to neutral or angry faces. Greater dmPFC activity may reflect more cognitive control involved in decoding and/or regulating negative emotions associated with neutral or angry than happy, and older than young, faces.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 3, no 223, 1-19 p.
Keyword [en]
emotion, faces, aging, medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, affective processing, cognitive control
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83452DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00223OAI: diva2:575832
Available from: 2012-12-11 Created: 2012-12-11 Last updated: 2013-03-12Bibliographically approved

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Fischer, Håkan
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Department of PsychologyAging Research Center (ARC), (together with KI)
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