Linking Prior Emotional Behaviour to Face Identities: An fMRI Study

Claire Naughtin (2010). Linking Prior Emotional Behaviour to Face Identities: An fMRI Study Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Claire Naughtin
Thesis Title Linking Prior Emotional Behaviour to Face Identities: An fMRI Study
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Total pages 97
Abstract/Summary The ability to remember how people have behaved in prior encounters is a crucial social skill as this knowledge can guide our behaviour towards them in future interactions. The neural structures that underlie this ability are largely unknown. This was the focus of the present research, which examined how the neural response to faces is influenced by whether a person behaved appropriately or inappropriately in initial social encounters. This research question was assessed over two experiments investigating both behavioural (Experiment 1) and neural (Experiment 2) effects. In both these experiments, participants were exposed to unfamiliar faces that consistently displayed either an „Appropriate‟ (e.g., smiling towards a chocolate sundae) or „Inappropriate‟ (e.g., smiling towards a plane crash) emotional behaviour. In Experiment 1, participants then completed face evaluation measures to assess perceived pleasantness and implicit memory for the faces. Participants‟ judgements showed no influence of faces‟ prior emotional behaviour. This was followed up with Experiment 2 to examine whether any traces of prior social knowledge would be evident at a neural level. As expected, the neural response to faces was modulated by the prior emotional behaviour associated with the faces, with greater activity in the right medial prefrontal cortex, insula, inferior frontal gyrus and putamen to Inappropriate faces than Appropriate faces. These findings provide a neural basis for the ability to retrieve knowledge of prior social experiences and associate this information with face identities. The functional significance of these neural areas, implications and future directions are discussed.

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Created: Tue, 05 Apr 2011, 12:37:55 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology