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A developmental examination of face emotion labeling

Monday, September 22, 2014 — Poster Session I

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center




  • A.H. Oakes
  • J.L. Wiggins
  • N.E. Adleman
  • P. Kim
  • M.A. Brotman
  • E. Leibenluft


Emotional facial expressions provide information that is critical in guiding social interaction and functioning. Examining face-emotion labeling in typically developing children and adults is important for understanding the trajectory of socioemotional development. The use of varying expression intensities in this study allows us to examine more fine-grained gradation in emotion labeling. Related work has focused on infancy and early childhood, whereas this work explores late childhood and adolescence. Healthy children (n=21) and healthy adults (n=21) underwent fMRI while completing a face-emotion labeling task. Participants viewed images of angry, fearful, happy, and neutral expressions and had to identify each emotion. Emotional faces were morphed with neutral faces to create 50%, 75%, and 100% intensities. Results show that at intensities of 75% and higher, individuals are able to correctly identify the emotion, regardless of age. Furthermore, both children and adults have difficulty correctly labeling less intense facial expressions (50%). When processing less intense emotional stimuli (50%), happiness is recognized with the greatest accuracy. Because children and adults did not differ behaviorally in face-emotion labeling, future work may use imaging to identify the neural mechanisms underlying the development of face emotion labeling.

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