Comprehending Body Language and Mimics: An ERP and Neuroimaging Study on Italian Actors and ViewersReport as inadecuate

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In this study, the neural mechanism subserving the ability to understand people’s emotional and mental states by observing their body language facial expression, body posture and mimics was investigated in healthy volunteers. ERPs were recorded in 30 Italian University students while they evaluated 280 pictures of highly ecological displays of emotional body language that were acted out by 8 male and female Italian actors. Pictures were briefly flashed and preceded by short verbal descriptions e.g. -What a bore!- that were incongruent half of the time e.g., a picture of a very attentive and concentrated person shown after the previous example verbal description. ERP data and source reconstruction indicated that the first recognition of incongruent body language occurred 300 ms post-stimulus. swLORETA performed on the N400 identified the strongest generators of this effect in the right rectal gyrus BA11 of the ventromedial orbitofrontal cortex, the bilateral uncus limbic system and the cingulate cortex, the cortical areas devoted to face and body processing STS, FFA EBA and the premotor cortex BA6, which is involved in action understanding. These results indicate that face and body mimics undergo a prioritized processing that is mostly represented in the affective brain and is rapidly compared with verbal information. This process is likely able to regulate social interactions by providing on-line information about the sincerity and trustfulness of others.

Author: Alice Mado Proverbio , Marta Calbi, Mirella Manfredi, Alberto Zani



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