Time course of regional brain activations during facial emotion recognition in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2003 May 15;342(1-2):101-4. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00274-x.


Recognition of facial expressions of emotions is very important for communication and social cognition. Neuroimaging studies showed that numerous brain regions participate in this complex function. To study spatiotemporal aspects of the neural representation of facial emotion recognition we recorded neuromagnetic activity in 12 healthy individuals by means of a whole head magnetoencephalography system. Source reconstructions revealed that several cortical and subcortical brain regions produced strong neural activity in response to emotional faces at latencies between 100 and 360 ms that were much stronger than those to neutral as well as to blurred faces. Orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala showed affect-related activity at short latencies already within 180 ms after stimulus onset. Some of the emotion-responsive regions were repeatedly activated during the stimulus presentation period pointing to the assumption that these reactivations represent indicators of a distributed interacting circuitry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Time Factors