We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Laterality and (in)visibility in emotional face perception : manipulations in spatial frequency content.

Hausmann, M. and Innes, B. R. and Birch, Y. K. and Kentridge, R. W. (2021) 'Laterality and (in)visibility in emotional face perception : manipulations in spatial frequency content.', Emotion., 21 (1). pp. 175-183.


It is widely agreed that hemispheric asymmetries in emotional face perception exist. However, the mechanisms underlying this lateralization are not fully understood. In the present study, we tested whether (a) these asymmetries are driven by the low spatial frequency content of images depicting facial expressions, and (b) whether the effects differed depending on whether the emotional facial expressions were clearly visible or hidden (i.e., embedded in low spatial frequencies). The manipulation sheds light on the contribution of cortical and subcortical routes to emotional processing mechanisms. We prepared both unfiltered (broadband) and hybrid faces. Within the latter, different bands of spatial frequency content from images of 2 different expressions were combined (i.e., low frequencies from an emotional image combined with high frequencies from a neutral image). We presented these broadband and hybrid images using the free-viewing emotional chimeric faces task (ECFT) in which 2 images are presented above and below fixation and asked participants to report which of the 2 mirror reversed images appeared more emotional. As predicted, the results showed that only broadband expressions produced the well-known left visual field/right hemisphere (LVF/RH) bias across all basic emotions. For hybrid images, only happiness revealed a significant LVF/RH bias. These results suggest that low spatial frequency content of emotional facial expressions, which activates the magnocellular pathway in subcortical structures and bypassing cortical visual processing, is not generally sufficient to induce an LVF bias under free-viewing conditions where participants deny explicitly seeing the emotion, suggesting that the LVF bias in ECFT is primarily cortically mediated.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2019 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Date accepted:03 June 2019
Date deposited:25 June 2019
Date of first online publication:01 August 2019
Date first made open access:07 February 2020

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar