Flawless visual short-term memory for facial emotional expressions

Éva M. Bankó, Viktor Gál, Z. Vidnyánszky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Facial emotions are important cues of human social interactions. Emotional expressions are continuously changing and thus should be monitored, memorized, and compared from time to time during social intercourse. However, it is not known how efficiently emotional expressions can be stored in short-term memory. Here we show that emotion discrimination is not impaired when the faces to be compared are separated by several seconds, requiring storage of fine-grained emotion-related information in short-term memory. Likewise, we found no significant effect of increasing the delay between the sample and the test face in the case of facial identity discrimination. Furthermore, a second experiment conducted on a large subject sample (N = 160) revealed flawless short-term memory for both facial emotions and facial identity also when observers performed the discrimination tasks only twice with novel faces. We also performed an fMRI experiment, which confirmed that discrimination of fine-grained emotional expressions in our experimental paradigm involved processing of high-level facial emotional attributes. Significantly stronger fMRI responses were found in a cortical network - including the posterior superior temporal sulcus - that is known to be involved in processing of facial emotional expression during emotion discrimination than during identity discrimination. These findings reveal flawless, high-resolution visual short-term memory for emotional expressions, which might underlie efficient monitoring of continuously changing facial emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalJournal of Vision
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 14 2009

Fingerprint

Facial Expression
Short-Term Memory
Emotions
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Temporal Lobe
Interpersonal Relations
Cues
Discrimination (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Faces
  • Facial identity
  • Social cognition
  • Superior temporal sulcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

Cite this

Flawless visual short-term memory for facial emotional expressions. / Bankó, Éva M.; Gál, Viktor; Vidnyánszky, Z.

In: Journal of Vision, Vol. 9, No. 1, 12, 14.01.2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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