Tuning the developing brain to social signals of emotions

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Jan;10(1):37-47. doi: 10.1038/nrn2554. Epub 2008 Dec 3.


Humans in different cultures develop a similar capacity to recognize the emotional signals of diverse facial expressions. This capacity is mediated by a brain network that involves emotion-related brain circuits and higher-level visual-representation areas. Recent studies suggest that the key components of this network begin to emerge early in life. The studies also suggest that initial biases in emotion-related brain circuits and the early coupling of these circuits and cortical perceptual areas provide a foundation for a rapid acquisition of representations of those facial features that denote specific emotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Visual Perception / physiology