Publication details for Dr Anthony AtkinsonAtkinson, A. P. & Adolphs, A. (2005). Visual emotion perception: Mechanisms and processes. In Emotion and consciousness. L.F. Barrett, P.M. Niedenthal & P. Winkielman (Eds.) New York: Guilford Press. pp. 150-182.
- Publication type: Books: sections
- ISSN/ISBN: 1-59385-188-X
Author(s) from Durham
From the Introduction:
Perceiving and interpreting other people’s emotional states is essential for effective social interaction. Its very importance is likely to have resulted in the evolution of complex mechanisms that underlie it. A basic capacity to attach emotional significance to stimuli and respond to them appropriately, without any conscious experience, is likely to have evolved under different selection pressures and considerably earlier than the capacity for conscious emotional responses — a hypothesis that now enjoys considerable empirical support (LeDoux, 1998). Emotion perception is similarly bifurcated in this way. At times emotion perception is automatic and fast (and thus, typically, unconscious), and at other times deliberate, slow, and effortful (and thus, typically, conscious). Recent evidence indicates that this distinction at the behavioral level reflects a division in the underlying cognitive processes and neural substrate.
The focus of this chapter is emotion perception from visual cues. In Section 2, we highlight some of the conceptual issues surrounding the distinction between conscious and unconscious emotion perception, and the different methods used to probe these capacities. Then, in Section 3, we outline the neural substrate of emotion perception from facial expressions, weighing up the evidence for a degree of emotion-specific functional organization in these neural mechanisms, and arguing the need for further research using dynamic portrayals of emotion. In Section 4, we consider the evidence that a subcortical pathway from the retina to amygdala, bypassing primary visual cortex, subserves unconscious emotion perception. In section 5, we explore whether the neural structures involved in emotion perception from faces might also subserve emotion perception from other visual cues, especially body posture and movement.
Co-authored with Ralph Adolphs.