Frontal lobe networks for effective processing of ambiguously expressed emotions in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2003 Sep 11;348(2):113-6. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00768-7.


This study examines the neural substrates involved in the recognition of ambiguous facial expressions using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects performed two tasks, one in which they judged facial expressions and another in which they identified gender. Subtraction between ambiguous expression and clear expression conditions revealed the activation of anterior cingulate (ACC), medial frontal (MeFG) and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Structural equation modeling showed that the functional connectivity between these areas was greater with the ambiguous expressions than with the clear ones. The activation of the ACC, MeFG, and right IFG was greater with ambiguous expressions than with ambiguous gender. These results suggest that the neural network involving these frontal regions plays a crucial role in the processing of the ambiguously expressed facial emotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*