The perception of emotion in body expressions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

During communication, we perceive and express emotional information through many different channels, including facial expressions, prosody, body motion, and posture. Although historically the human body has been perceived primarily as a tool for actions, there is now increased understanding that the body is also an important medium for emotional expression. Indeed, research on emotional body language is rapidly emerging as a new field in cognitive and affective neuroscience. This article reviews how whole-body signals are processed and understood, at the behavioral and neural levels, with specific reference to their role in emotional communication. The first part of this review outlines brain regions and spectrotemporal dynamics underlying perception of isolated neutral and affective bodies, the second part details the contextual effects on body emotion recognition, and final part discusses body processing on a subconscious level. More specifically, research has shown that body expressions as compared with neutral bodies draw upon a larger network of regions responsible for action observation and preparation, emotion processing, body processing, and integrative processes. Results from neurotypical populations and masking paradigms suggest that subconscious processing of affective bodies relies on a specific subset of these regions. Moreover, recent evidence has shown that emotional information from the face, voice, and body all interact, with body motion and posture often highlighting and intensifying the emotion expressed in the face and voice. (C) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Cognitive Science
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • BIOLOGICAL MOTION
  • BODILY EXPRESSIONS
  • FACE PERCEPTION
  • FACIAL EXPRESSION
  • GRASP REPRESENTATIONS
  • INFEROTEMPORAL CORTEX
  • INFLUENCE RECOGNITION
  • NEURAL RESPONSES
  • TEMPORAL CORTEX
  • WHOLE-BODY

Cite this