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Tracing cultural diversity for the decoding of facial expressions of emotion: from visual intake to neural signatures

English title Tracing cultural diversity for the decoding of facial expressions of emotion: from visual intake to neural signatures
Applicant Caldara Roberto
Number 171065
Funding scheme Bilateral programmes
Research institution Laboratoire des Neurosciences Cognitives Département de Psychologie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2017 - 29.02.2020
Approved amount 242'205.00
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Keywords (4)

Facial Expressions of Emotion; Neural correlates; Culture; Infant

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Tracer la diversité culturelle dans le décodage des expressions émotionnelles faciales : de l’entrée visuelle aux signatures neuronales
Lay summary

Les expressions émotionnelles sont considérées comme des signaux adaptatifs universels qui ont évolué en raison de leur rôle crucial pour la survie des êtres humains.  Dès la première année de vie, les humains développent des circuits neuronaux spécifiques dédiés à la reconnaissance des expressions émotionnelles, une habileté essentielle pour le développement d’interactions sociales adéquates. Une récente recherche de notre laboratoire a permis de démontrer qu’en fonction de leur culture, les nourrissons discriminent les expressions faciales grâce à des stratégies de fixations visuelles distinctes, correspondant aux stratégies observées chez les adultes vivant dans le même environnement dans lequel ils se développent. Plus précisément, la bouche est plus informative dans la transmission de signaux émotionnels pour les populations occidentales, alors que les yeux fournissent davantage d’informations pour les populations de l’Asie de l’Est. Ces différences culturelles sont également reflétées dans l’utilisation des émoticons. Les populations de l’Asie de l’Est se basent principalement sur les changements survenant au niveau des yeux ^_^, T_T (joie et tristesse), alors que les populations occidentales se focalisent davantage sur les signaux provenant de la bouche :-), :-(.

Le projet présent vise à approfondir la compréhension des différences culturelles dans les stratégies perceptuelles lors du traitement des expressions émotionnelles, avec les buts suivants :  

  • Elucider les bases neuronales du traitement des émotions durant la petite enfance.
  • Identifier les réseaux neuronaux impliqués dans le traitement de la peur dans les cultures Occidentales et Orientales chez les nourrissons et les adultes.
  • Identifier les différences culturelles dans le traitement des expressions faciales en investiguant notamment comment l’information visuelle statique et dynamique est utilisée grâce à des techniques psychophysiques de pointe. 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.01.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Neural Representations of Faces are Tuned to Eye Movements.
Stacchi Lisa, Ramon Meike, Lao Junpeng, Caldara Roberto (2019), Neural Representations of Faces are Tuned to Eye Movements., in The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 39(21), 4113.
Waldo reveals cultural differences in return fixations
Lüthold Patrick, Lao Junpeng, He Lingnan, Zhou Xinyue, Caldara Roberto (2018), Waldo reveals cultural differences in return fixations, in Visual Cognition, 26(10), 817-830.
Holistic processing in mother's face perception for infants
Nakato E., Kanazawa S., Yamaguchi M. K. (2018), Holistic processing in mother's face perception for infants, in Infant Behaviour and Development, 257-263.
Culture reveals a flexible system for face processing
Caldara R. (2017), Culture reveals a flexible system for face processing, in Current Directions in Psychological Science, 246-255.
Gaze-cueing with crossed eyes: asymmetry between nasal and temporal shifts
Takao S., Murata A., Watanabe K., Gaze-cueing with crossed eyes: asymmetry between nasal and temporal shifts, in Perception, 47, 158-170.
Huge intrinsic correlation between developmental prosopagnosia questionnaires: A comment on Shah et al.
Matsuyoshi D., Watanabe K., Huge intrinsic correlation between developmental prosopagnosia questionnaires: A comment on Shah et al., in bioRxiv, 1.
Infants recognize the identity in a dynamic facial animation that simultaneously changes its identity and expression
Ichikawa H., Kanazawa S., Yamaguchi M. K., Infants recognize the identity in a dynamic facial animation that simultaneously changes its identity and expression, in Visual Cognition, 1.
Perceptual narrowing towards adult faces is a cross-cultural phenomenon in infancy: A behavioural and near-infrared spectroscopy study with Japanese infants
Kobayashi M., Macchi Cassia V., Kanazawa S., Yamaguchi M. K., Kakigi R., Perceptual narrowing towards adult faces is a cross-cultural phenomenon in infancy: A behavioural and near-infrared spectroscopy study with Japanese infants, in Developmental Science, 1.
Prioritized identification of attractive and romantic partner faces in rapid serial visual presentation
Nakamura K., Arai S., Kawabata H., Prioritized identification of attractive and romantic partner faces in rapid serial visual presentation, in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 46, 2327-2338.
Prioritized identification of attractive and romantic partner faces in rapid serial visual presentation
Nakamura K., Arai S., Kawabata H., Prioritized identification of attractive and romantic partner faces in rapid serial visual presentation, in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 46, 2327-2338.
The gaze-cueing effect in the United States and Japan: Influence of cultural differences in cognitive strategies on control of attention
Takao S., Yamani Y., Ariga A., The gaze-cueing effect in the United States and Japan: Influence of cultural differences in cognitive strategies on control of attention, in Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Montri Phothisonothai Laboratory /KMITL University Thailand (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Watanabe Laboratory / Masada University Japan (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Masami Yamaguchi Laboratory / Chuo University Japan (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Annual meeting of the French society for eye-tracking in autism Talk given at a conference iMap4, past, present and future 15.03.2019 Tours University, France Ticcinelli Valentina;
International seminars for invited speakers Individual talk Signal processing for biological data 07.02.2019 KMITL University, Bangkok, Thailand Ticcinelli Valentina;
Swiss academia/industry network - Logitech group Individual talk iMap4, past, present and future 09.11.2018 Fribourg university, Switzerland Caldara Roberto; Ticcinelli Valentina;
International seminars for invited speakers Individual talk iMap4, theory and practice 08.06.2018 Waseda University, Japan Ticcinelli Valentina;
Vision Sciences Society 2018 Talk given at a conference Race at First Sight 18.05.2018 St Pete Beach, United States of America Caldara Roberto;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions EXPLORA Western Switzerland 2018

Abstract

Humans adapt to their environment through a unique amalgamation of culture and biology. Historically, it has long been presumed that across cultures, all humans perceive the world essentially in a comparable manner, viewing objects and attending to salient information in similar ways. Recently, however, our work and a growing body of literature have disputed this notion by highlighting fundamental differences in perception between people from Eastern (China, Korea and Japan) and Western cultures, even for important biologically-relevant tasks, such as face recognition and the decoding of facial expressions of emotions. Such a marked contrast obligates us to reconsider the very nature of perception and the forces that are responsible for shaping the way we see the world. However, much of the evidence so far has been provided by behavioral measures in the adults. Cultural neuroscience introduces a biological perspective to cross-cultural research The empirical challenge is now to identify through ontogeny how neural mechanisms and psychological capacities emerge through complex, multilevel interactions between genes, brain, and the cultural environment. A key example of biology-culture interplay is the recognition of facial expressions of emotion.Emotional facial expressions are considered adaptive universal signals that evolved because of their crucial role for the survival of social species. From infancy, humans develop dedicated neural circuits to exhibit and recognize a variety of facial expressions, a critical ability for the normal development of social interactions. However, our work has provided strong evidence cultures visually discriminate facial expressions of emotion by relying on culturally distinct fixation strategies, resembling those used by the adults from the environment in which they develop. Specifically, the mouth is more informative for transmitting emotional signals in Westerners and the eye region for Easterners, generating culture-specific fixation biases towards these features. These differences in the informative value of face areas during emotion communication are also reflected in the use of emoticons, with Eastern adults reporting predominantly changes in expressions through the eyes ^_^ T_T (happy and sad) and for the Westerners through the mouth respectively :-) :-(.This research proposal aims at furthering understanding cultural variation in perceptual strategies during emotion processing from the entry point of visual qualitative and quantitative information processing to its decoding at the neural level. The overarching aims of the research program include:i.Elucidate the neural basis of emotion processing in infancy.ii.Identifying the neural networks involved in the processing of fear across East Asian and Western Caucasian cultures, in infants and adults.iii.Further characterizing cultural differences in emotion processing by investigating static and dynamic visual information use with psychophysical techniques.The interdisciplinary studies outlined below build on and expand on existing behavioral, eye movement and neuroimaging studies we have carried out during the past few years and will rely on original novel experimental paradigms and robust statistical analyses. This strategic research collaborative program between Switzerland and Japan offers a unique opportunity to further understand East Asian and Western Caucasian cultural perceptual differences. The potential benefits of the research outlined here go well beyond the research community. We genuinely believe that in an increasingly globalized world, identifying neural sensitivity and further characterizing cultural perceptual differences in emotion processing has the potential for profound theoretical, social, clinical, economic and commercial impact.
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