Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2015, Vol. 47 Issue (8) : 963-970     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00963
Comparison of Facial Expressions and Body Expressions:  An Event-related Potential Study
ZHANG Dandan; ZHAO Ting; LIU Yunzhe; CHEN Yuming
(Institute of Affective and Social Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China)
Download: PDF(645 KB)   Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks    

Facial expressions and body expressions are both important emotion carriers in everyday communication and interaction. However, cognitive neuroscience in the field of emotion focuses mainly on the brain mechanism of facial expression processing and leave many problems of the body expression processing largely unsolved. The current study employed the event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine the time course of fearful and neutral body/face processing in 40 healthy adults. A total of 40 pictures of faces and 40 pictures of bodies were selected from Chinese facial and body picture systems. The experimental participants were required to discriminate the emotion (fear or neutral) of each picture (presented for 300 ms) as fast as possible. The task consisted of two blocks (face and body) of 120 trials each. Blocks were separated by self-terminated breaks. The order of the two blocks was counterbalanced across subjects. Stimulus display and behavioral data acquisition were conducted using E-Prime software. Brain electrical activity was recorded referentially against left mastoid and off-line re-referenced to average reference, by a 64-channel amplifier using a standard 10-20 system (Brain Products). The results of this study help to answer three question on the processing of fearful face and body expressions. First, the emotional carrier does influence the processing of fearful information. It is found that compared with facial expressions, the occipital P1 was larger in response to body expressions. Another finding in the early processing stage is that, similar with facial emotion processing, the brain could discriminate fearful and neutral bodies as early as approximately 100 ms post stimulus, reflected by a larger P1 in the fearful body condition. Second, the ERP components of N170 and VPP showed similar results in response to fearful facial and body expressions. The two components discriminated fearful and neutral faces but not bodies. In addition, compared with facial expressions, body expressions evoked smaller and slower N170/VPP, indicating that the brain in this processing stage allocated less cognitive resources to body expressions. Finally, the P3 component differed not only between body and face conditions, but also fearful and neutral conditions, suggesting a comprehensive processing of emotional information. The current result indicated that facial and body expressions had similar processing dynamics in the form of ERP data. Compared with facial expressions, it is seemed that the brain prefers body expressions at the early processing stage (the P1 time window). It is hoped that the current results regarding the emotional processing of facial and body expressions will be helpful for our understanding of the mechanisms of the emotional brain. The investigated ERP components in this study are potential biomarkers for the diagnosis of emotional disorders.

Keywords body expression      facial expression      event-related potential     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Dandan, E-mail:   
Issue Date: 25 August 2015
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Cite this article:   
ZHANG Dandan; ZHAO Ting; LIU Yunzhe; CHEN Yuming. Comparison of Facial Expressions and Body Expressions:  An Event-related Potential Study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015, 47(8): 963-970.
URL:     OR
[1] LI Jin, SUN Yu, YANG Zilu, ZHONG Yiping. Social value orientation modulates the processing of social rewards for self: Evidence from ERPs study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(6): 786-800.
[2] LI Wanyue,HAN Shangfeng,LIU Shen,YANG Yaping,ZHANG Lin,XU Qiang. Scene effects on facial expression detection: The moderating effects of trait anxiety[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(8): 869-878.
[3] WANG Lili, FENG Wenfeng, JIA Lina, ZHU Xiangru, LUO Wenbo, YANG Suyong, LUO Yue-jia. Emotional processing of winning and losing facial expression and body posture[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(8): 892-906.
[4] TIAN Lumei, YUAN Jingchi, LI Yongmei.  Effects of peer presence and self-esteem on adolescent risk-taking behavior: Evidence from an ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(1): 47-57.
[5] BAI Lu, MAO Weibin, WANG Rui, Zhang Wenhai.  The effect of emotional scene and body expression on facial expression recognition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(9): 1172-1183.
[6] CHENG Jiaping; LUO Yuejia; CUI Fang. Empathy for pain influenced by cognitive load: Evidence from an ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 622-630.
[7] XIE Zhipeng; WANG Tao. Is “He” frowning on Me? The impact of facial expression on customer attitude[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 680-691.
[8] SUN Juncai; SHI Rong. Attentional bias to crying facial expressions: Evidence from eye movements[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(2): 155-163.
[9] WEI Xiaona, QI Changzhu, XU Xia, HONG Xiaobin, LUO Yuejia.  The effect of tennis expertise on motion-in-deep perception: An event-related potential study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(11): 1404-1413.
[10] FAN Wei; ZHONG Yiping; YANG Zilu; LI Jin; OUYANG Yi. The degree of self-reference effect of extroversion individuals[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(8): 1002-1012.
[11] SONG Juan; GUO Fengbo; ZHANG Zhen; YUAN Sheng; JIN Hua; WANG Yiwen. Interpersonal distance influences on pain empathy: Friends priming effect[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(7): 833-844.
[12] YANG Yaping; XU Qiang; ZHANG Lin; DENG Peizhuang; LIANG Ningjian. Scenes Differing in Spatial Frequencies Affect Facial Expression Processing: Evidence from ERP[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(12): 1433-1444.
[13] ZHANG Meichen; WEI Ping; ZHANG Qin. The Impact of Supra- and Sub-liminal Facial Expressions on the Gaze-cueing Effect[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(11): 1309-1317.
[14] WANG Yingying;LIANG Jiuqing;GUO Chunyan. Effects of Emotional Picture Cues on Directed Forgetting Using the Item Method: An ERPs Study at Encoding[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(6): 740-753.
[15] JIANG Jun;XIANG Ling;ZHANG Qinglin;CHEN Antao. Conflict Adaptation Is Independent of Consciousness: Behavioral and ERP Evidence[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(5): 581-592.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech