Brain Responses to Dynamic Facial Expressions: A Normative Meta-Analysis

Front Hum Neurosci. 2018 Jun 5;12:227. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00227. eCollection 2018.


Identifying facial expressions is crucial for social interactions. Functional neuroimaging studies show that a set of brain areas, such as the fusiform gyrus and amygdala, become active when viewing emotional facial expressions. The majority of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies investigating face perception typically employ static images of faces. However, studies that use dynamic facial expressions (e.g., videos) are accumulating and suggest that a dynamic presentation may be more sensitive and ecologically valid for investigating faces. By using quantitative fMRI meta-analysis the present study examined concordance of brain regions associated with viewing dynamic facial expressions. We analyzed data from 216 participants that participated in 14 studies, which reported coordinates for 28 experiments. Our analysis revealed bilateral fusiform and middle temporal gyri, left amygdala, left declive of the cerebellum and the right inferior frontal gyrus. These regions are discussed in terms of their relation to models of face processing.

Keywords: activation likelihood estimate; dynamic faces; fMRI meta-analysis; facial expressions; social cognition.