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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Mar 29, 2003; 358(1431): 561–572.
PMCID: PMC1693136
Facial expressions, their communicatory functions and neuro-cognitive substrates.
R J R Blair
Unit on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670, USA. blairj@intra.nimh.nih.gov
Abstract
Human emotional expressions serve a crucial communicatory role allowing the rapid transmission of valence information from one individual to another. This paper will review the literature on the neural mechanisms necessary for this communication: both the mechanisms involved in the production of emotional expressions and those involved in the interpretation of the emotional expressions of others. Finally, reference to the neuro-psychiatric disorders of autism, psychopathy and acquired sociopathy will be made. In these conditions, the appropriate processing of emotional expressions is impaired. In autism, it is argued that the basic response to emotional expressions remains intact but that there is impaired ability to represent the referent of the individual displaying the emotion. In psychopathy, the response to fearful and sad expressions is attenuated and this interferes with socialization resulting in an individual who fails to learn to avoid actions that result in harm to others. In acquired sociopathy, the response to angry expressions in particular is attenuated resulting in reduced regulation of social behaviour.
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Articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of
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