Seminar Series

It's written all over your face: Tapping the mechanisms underlying facial expression perception

Bruce and Young's (1986) functional model of face recognition postulates separate parallel routes for the processing of facial identity (who the person is) and facial expression (what they are feeling). Over the last twenty years, however, cognitive research has concentrated on the development of the identity route and the mechanisms involved in facial expression recognition have been largely neglected. Hence, although the work of Ekman and his colleagues has greatly enhanced our understanding of the anatomy used to produce facial expressions, knowledge of the perceptual/cognitive processes needed to decode them remains scant. The research I will present attempts to address this imbalance by taking a cognitive approach to the analysis of facial affect. Studies of normal and brain-injured subjects will be discussed.