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Open AccessArticle

Seeing a Face in a Crowd of Emotional Voices: Changes in Perception and Cortisol in Response to Emotional Information across the Senses

1
Department of Psychology, Developmental and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA
2
Division of Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(8), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9080176
Received: 4 June 2019 / Revised: 1 July 2019 / Accepted: 24 July 2019 / Published: 25 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perceptual and Affective Mechanisms in Facial Expression Recognition)
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Abstract

One source of information we glean from everyday experience, which guides social interaction, is assessing the emotional state of others. Emotional state can be expressed through several modalities: body posture or movements, body odor, touch, facial expression, or the intonation in a voice. Much research has examined emotional processing within one sensory modality or the transfer of emotional processing from one modality to another. Yet, less is known regarding interactions across different modalities when perceiving emotions, despite our common experience of seeing emotion in a face while hearing the corresponding emotion in a voice. Our study examined if visual and auditory emotions of matched valence (congruent) conferred stronger perceptual and physiological effects compared to visual and auditory emotions of unmatched valence (incongruent). We quantified how exposure to emotional faces and/or voices altered perception using psychophysics and how it altered a physiological proxy for stress or arousal using salivary cortisol. While we found no significant advantage of congruent over incongruent emotions, we found that changes in cortisol were associated with perceptual changes. Following exposure to negative emotional content, larger decreases in cortisol, indicative of less stress, correlated with more positive perceptual after-effects, indicative of stronger biases to see neutral faces as happier. View Full-Text
Keywords: adaptation; emotion; cortisol; crossmodal; face perception; threat adaptation; emotion; cortisol; crossmodal; face perception; threat
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Izen, S.C.; Lapp, H.E.; Harris, D.A.; Hunter, R.G.; Ciaramitaro, V.M. Seeing a Face in a Crowd of Emotional Voices: Changes in Perception and Cortisol in Response to Emotional Information across the Senses. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 176.

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