psychology

Topics: Emotion, Brain, Cerebrum Pages: 29 (7794 words) Published: November 3, 2013
BODY LANGUAGE: EMBODIED PERCEPTION OF EMOTION
Charlotte B.A. Sinke1,2, Mariska E. Kret1 & Beatrice de Gelder1,3*, 1

Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the

Netherlands
2

Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the

Netherlands
3

Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital,

Charlestown, Massachusetts
*

Corresponding author

List of abbreviations
AMG = amygdala; almond-shaped nucleus in anterior temporal lobe EBA = extrastriate body area; brain area lying in temporal-occipital sulcus which is specifically involved in processing bodies
EEG = electroencephalography; a method to measure electrical activity from the scalp related to cortical activity
ERP = event-related potential; EEG waves time locked to specific stimuli FBA = fusiform body area; brain area in the fusiform gyrus that is specifically involved in processing bodies
FFA = fusiform face area; brain area in the fusiform gyrus that is specifically involved in processing faces
FG = fusiform gyrus; part of the temporal lobe that is involved in visual processing fMRI = functional magnetic resonance imaging; brain imaging method that measures the hemodynamic response (change in blood flow) related to neural activity in the brain

hMT+/V5 = human motion area; brain area specifically processing movement

1

IOG = inferior occipital gyrus
IFG = inferior frontal gyrus
MEG = magnetoencephalography; a neuroimaging technique that measures magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain
N170 = ERP component originating from lateral occipitotemporal cortex specifically related to a late stage in the early visual encoding of faces OFA = occipital face area; brain area in inferior occipital gyrus known to be involved in face processing

P1 = very early ERP component related to very early visual processing PET = positron emission tomography; brain imaging method whereby radioactive tracers are injected into the blood stream
PM = premotor cortex
STS = superior temporal sulcus; posterior part is involved in processing biological motion
TPJ = temporo-parietal junction
V1 = primary visual cortex

INTRODUCTION
In everyday life, we are continuously confronted with other people. How they behave and move around has a direct influence on us whether we are aware of it or not. In communication, we are generally focused on the face. For this reason, emotion research in the past has focused on faces. Also, facial expressions seem to have universal consistency. However, bodily expressions are just as well recognized as facial expressions, they can be seen from a distance and are from evolutionary perspective much older. Body language therefore has a high communicative role

2

albeit we are less aware of it. Models on facial expression processing might also work for understanding bodily expressions. Similar brain regions seem to get activated for both, but although faces show the mental states of people, body postures in addition show an action intention. Therefore, seeing bodies additionally activates motion areas.

In a naturalistic environment, faces never appear alone: they are mostly always accompanied by a body which influences how the facial expression is perceived. This is also the case for other modalities such as the voice. Which modality is dominant depends on the specific emotion being shown, on the situation and many other factors. For example, aggression seems to be more pronounced in bodily expressions, while shame or disgust can clearly be seen from the face. Also the context, including other people or not, can facilitate recognition of emotions. Moreover, we do not live in a static world; dynamic stimuli give us, just like in the real world, more information. We also would like to put forward that brain responses to emotional expressions are not driven by external features alone but they are determined by the...
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