When you smile, you become happy: evidence from resting state task-based fMRI

Biol Psychol. 2014 Dec:103:100-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.08.003. Epub 2014 Aug 17.


Simulation studies on emotion have shown that facial actions can initiate and modulate particular emotions. However, the neural mechanisms of these initiating and modulating functions are unclear. In this study, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and task-based fMRI to explore these processes by examining spontaneous cerebral activities and brain activations under two conditions: holding a pen using only the teeth (HPT: facilitating the muscles typically associated with smiling) and holding a pen using only the lips (HPL: inhibiting the muscles typically associated with smiling). The resting-state fMRI results showed that compared with the HPL condition, significant increases in the amplitudes of low-frequency fluctuations were found in the right posterior cingulate gyrus [PCG; Brodmann area 31 (BA31)] and in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG; BA9) in the HPT condition. These findings might be related to the initiation of positive emotions (PCG) and to the control and allocation of attention (MFG). The task-based fMRI results showed that the inferior parietal lobule, left supplementary motor area, superior parietal lobule, precuneus, and bilateral middle cingulum were active when facial manipulation influenced the recognition of emotional facial expressions. These results demonstrate that facial actions might not only initiate a particular emotion and draw attention, but also influence face-based emotion recognition.

Keywords: Embodied emotion; Facial actions; Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rfMRI); Task fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Smiling / physiology*
  • Young Adult