Facial reactions to happy and angry facial expressions: evidence for right hemisphere dominance

Psychophysiology. 2000 Sep;37(5):693-6.


Previous research on asymmetric effects of emotional expression and brain-hemispheric asymmetry has supported opposing theories of hemispheric dominance in the control of emotional reactions. In the present study, 32 subjects were exposed to pictures of happy and angry facial stimuli while facial electromyographic (EMG) activity from the zygomatic major and the corrugator supercilii muscle regions was detected from the left and right sides of the face. The subjects reacted spontaneously and rapidly with larger zygomatic EMG activity to happy facial stimuli and larger corrugator EMG activity to angry stimuli. These distinct reactions were significantly larger on the left side of the face. It is concluded that the present results support the hypothesis that the right brain hemisphere is predominantly involved in the control of spontaneously evoked emotional reactions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male