Our Brain and Facial Expressions

Recognizing facial expressions of emotion is no small task.  As simple as it may sound, many people find it difficult to understand how someone is really responding to their words or actions based upon facial expressions that sometimes only last a fraction of a second.

HindustanTimes reports on a study conducted by Dr. Lesley Fellows that focused on regions of the brain that are connected to face recognition and emotion processing skills.

What they found was that the area of the brain with the biggest impact on emotion recognition was the ventromedial PFC.

Dr. Fellows commented, “Patients with damage to the ventromedial PFC had a hard time distinguishing a neutral facial expression from emotional ones..Patients with left ventrolateral PFC damage recognized that an emotion was present in the expression, but had difficulty telling one emotion from another.”

The study’s findings, published in the Journal Cerebral Cortex, could help to understand some of the difficulties in social behavior seen in illnesses including certain forms of dementia, autism, or after a traumatic brain injury.

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