Emotional facial expressions reduce neural adaptation to face identity

Anna MV Gerlicher, Anouk M van Loon, H Steven Scholte, Victor AF Lamme, Andries R van der Leij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In human social interactions, facial emotional expressions are a crucial source of information. Repeatedly presented information typically leads to an adaptation of neural responses. However, processing seems sustained with emotional facial expressions. Therefore, we tested whether sustained processing of emotional expressions, especially threat-related expressions, would attenuate neural adaptation. Neutral and emotional expressions (happy, mixed and fearful) of same and different identity were presented at 3 Hz. We used electroencephalography to record the evoked steady-state visual potentials (ssVEP) and tested to what extent the ssVEP amplitude adapts to the same when compared with different face identities. We found adaptation to the identity of a neutral face. However, for emotional faces, adaptation was reduced, decreasing linearly with negative valence, with the least adaptation to fearful expressions. This short and straightforward method may prove to be a valuable new tool in the study of emotional processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-614
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number5
Early online date19 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Brain
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Face
  • Facial Expression
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Young Adult

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