Impairment of Emotional expression detection
Detecting emotional facial expressions is an initial and indispensable component of face-to-face communication. Neuropsychological studies on the neural substrates of this process have shown that bilateral amygdala lesions impaired the detection of emotional facial expressions. The participants were asked to detect normal facial expressions of anger and happiness, and artificially created anti-expressions, among a crowd with neutral expressions. Reaction times for the detection of normal expressions versus antiexpressions were shorter when the target faces were presented to the visual field contralateral to the intact hemisphere (i.e., stimulation of the intact hemisphere; e.g., right visual field for patients with right hemispheric resection) compared with the visual field contralateral to the resected hemisphere (i.e., stimulation of the resected hemisphere). Our findings imply that the medial temporal lobe structures, including the amygdala, play an essential role in the detection of emotional facial expressions, according to the emotional significance of the expressions. Detecting emotional facial expressions is an initial and indispensable component of conscious emotional communication. Appropriate detection of others’ emotional expressions allows us to understand their emotional states, and thus regulates social behavior and promotes the creation and maintenance of social relationships.