Emotional Face Processing


Faces reveal important social information about identity, emotional expression, gender, age and visual speech. The relationship between these various aspects of face processing has been the subject of considerable debate. One of the most influential models of face perception (Bruce & Young, 1986) is characterized by the notion of specialized and strictly independent modules for the recognition of facial identity on the one hand and the processing and facial expression on the other. In particular the model postulates largely abstract, expression independent representations of familiar faces. In the context of the question of a functional independence between identity and expression processing it is interesting that recently brain systems for face perception have been broadly classified into a system for analysing invariant aspects of faces underlying identity recognition, and a system for changeable aspects underlying expression and facial speech perception (Haxby, Hoffman & Gobbini, 2000). Although there is evidence for a substantial degree of independence between these sub-systems both from experimental psychology and neuropsychology, there are also reports of functional interactions. This research builds on recent findings of expression dependent face representations (Kaufmann & Schweinberger, 2004) and investigates if and at which level emotional expressions modulate face identity recognition.

Selected Relevant Publications

Dobel, C., Geiger, L., Bruchmann, M., Putsche, C., Schweinberger, S.R., & Junghöfer, M. (2008). On the interplay between familiarity and emotional expression in face perception. Psychological Research, 72, 580-586.

Dobel, C., Nestler-Collatz, B., Guntinas-Lichius, O., Schweinberger, S.R., & Zäske, R. (2020). Deaf signers outperform hearing non-signers in recognizing happy facial expressions. Psychological Research, 84(6), 1485-1494. (Link to PDF)

Geiger, A., Kaufmann, J.M., Schweinberger, S.R. (2004). Chimeric faces reveal hemispheric contributions to emotion processing. Poster presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP), Budapest, Hungary, August 2004.

Kang, K., Schneider, D., Schweinberger, S.R., & Mitchell, P. (2018). Dissociating neural signatures of mental state retrodiction and classification based on facial expressions. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13(9), 933-943. (Link to PDF)

Kaufmann, J. M. & Schweinberger, S. R. (2004). Expression influences the recognition of familiar faces. Perception, 33, 399-408.

Martens, U., Leuthold, H., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2010). On the temporal organisation of facial identity and expression analysis: Inferences from event-related brain potentials. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(4), 505-522.

Martens, U., Leuthold, H., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2010). Parallel processing in face perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36(1), 103-121.

Martens, U., Leuthold, H. & Schweinberger S.R (2006). Is facial identity and expression processed in parallel? Inferences from the LRP. Journal of Psychophysiology, 20(4), 327-328.

Schweinberger, S.R., Burton, A.M., & Kelly, S.W. (1999). Asymmetric relationship between identity and emotion perception: Experiments with morphed faces. Perception & Psychophysics, 61, 1102-1115.

Schweinberger, S. R. & Soukup, G. R. (1998). Asymmetric relationships among perceptions of facial identity, emotion, and facial speech. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 24, 1748-1765.

Skuk, V., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2013). Adaptation Aftereffects in Vocal Emotion Perception Elicited by Expressive Faces and Voices. PLoS One, 8(11), e81691. (Link to PDF)