ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (8): 1185-1197.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.01185

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Automatic processing of emotions: Evidence and controversy

WANG Lili1; JIA Lina2; LUO Yuejia3   

  1. (1 School of Educational Science, Huaiyin Normal University, Huaian 223300, China) (2 Departmentof Education, School of Humanities, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China) (3 Institute of Affective and Social Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China)
  • Received:2015-08-19 Online:2016-08-15 Published:2016-08-15
  • Contact: LUO Yuejia, E-mail:


Emotional information is important for human survival, and researchers have investigated whether emotion processing is automatic. A large body of evidence has demonstrated that emotional information can be detected rapidly, even without attention and consciousness. Firstly, the characteristics of automatic processing of emotions were discussed. Secondly, it was summarized that the subcortical pathway to amygdala through superior colliculus and the pulvinar nucleus of thalamus is important for automatic processing of emotions. Thirdly, the current controversial viewpoints regarding the experimental paradigms, techniques and the fast-subcortical pathway were discussed. In future studies, more precise experimental paradigms and techniques are needed to explore the nature of emotion and the neural underpinnings of emotion.

Key words: emotion, automatic processing, amygdala, subcortical pathway