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Title: Emotion recognition from facial and non-facial cues
Author: Boraston, Zillah Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 6008
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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The recognition of another's emotion is a vital component of social interaction, and a number of brain regions have been implicated in this process. This thesis describes a series of experiments which investigate further the neural basis of emotion recognition, and its disruption in autism, a disorder characterised by profound impairments in social and emotional understanding. First, I attempted to determine more precisely the role of two brain regions, the amygdala and fusiform gyrus, using multivariate analysis to investigate whether the identity of observed emotions is represented in the spatial pattern of activity in these regions. I next focused on a particular cue to emotion - that of social movement. For this purpose, I designed a novel test of emotion recognition using abstract animations. I used this in an fMRI study together with emotion recognition tasks relying on facial expression and prosody. I found that some brain regions involved in processing these more commonly studied cues were also recruited in emotion recognition from the animations. The final studies described here are concerned with emotion recognition in autism. I administered the social movement-based test of emotion recognition to adults with autism and found a deficit in sadness recognition, which extended to the recognition of sadness from facial expressions. Finally, I investigated the impact on emotion recognition of expertise with sensory cues, returning again to the processing of facial expressions. I employed a more subtle test of emotion processing, a posed smile discrimination task, and found impaired performance in the autism group and also reduced gaze to the eye region. These findings are discussed in view of current models of emotion recognition, with reference to the role of the amygdala and its interactions with specialised cortical regions, and the impact of early social experience on subsequent social perceptual and social cognitive ability.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available