This article is part of the Research Topic The Neural Mechanisms of Social Vision

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Integr. Neurosci., 29 February 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnint.2012.00009

Social categories shape the neural representation of emotion: evidence from a visual face adaptation task

  • 1Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 2Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

A number of recent behavioral studies have shown that emotional expressions are differently perceived depending on the race of a face, and that perception of race cues is influenced by emotional expressions. However, neural processes related to the perception of invariant cues that indicate the identity of a face (such as race) are often described to proceed independently of processes related to the perception of cues that can vary over time (such as emotion). Using a visual face adaptation paradigm, we tested whether these behavioral interactions between emotion and race also reflect interdependent neural representation of emotion and race. We compared visual emotion aftereffects when the adapting face and ambiguous test face differed in race or not. Emotion aftereffects were much smaller in different race (DR) trials than same race (SR) trials, indicating that the neural representation of a facial expression is significantly different depending on whether the emotional face is black or white. It thus seems that invariable cues such as race interact with variable face cues such as emotion not just at a response level, but also at the level of perception and neural representation.

Keywords: emotion, face perception, racial prejudice, visual adaptation

Citation: Otten M and Banaji MR (2012) Social categories shape the neural representation of emotion: evidence from a visual face adaptation task. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 6:9. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2012.00009

Received: 02 December 2011; Accepted: 16 February 2012;
Published online: 29 February 2012.

Edited by:

Jacob Jolij, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Klaus Mathiak, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Jacob Jolij, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Copyright: © 2012 Otten and Banaji. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Marte Otten, Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Roeterstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands. e-mail: m.otten@uva.nl