Emotion Perception from Face, Voice, and Touch: Comparisons and Convergence

Trends Cogn Sci. 2017 Mar;21(3):216-228. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Feb 4.


Historically, research on emotion perception has focused on facial expressions, and findings from this modality have come to dominate our thinking about other modalities. Here we examine emotion perception through a wider lens by comparing facial with vocal and tactile processing. We review stimulus characteristics and ensuing behavioral and brain responses and show that audition and touch do not simply duplicate visual mechanisms. Each modality provides a distinct input channel and engages partly nonoverlapping neuroanatomical systems with different processing specializations (e.g., specific emotions versus affect). Moreover, processing of signals across the different modalities converges, first into multi- and later into amodal representations that enable holistic emotion judgments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Face
  • Facial Expression*
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Touch
  • Touch Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Voice*