Poster C14, Sunday, March 25, 1:00-3:00 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Emotion processing in Moebius Syndrome
Shruti Japee1, Jessica Jordan1, Savannah Lokey1, Chris Baker1, Leslie Ungerleider1; 1Lab of Brain and Cognition, NIMH/NIH
Many researchers believe that humans learn to recognize facial expressions by mimicking the expressions of others, thereby experiencing the emotion themselves. But what happens when one cannot generate or mimic facial expressions due to congenital facial palsy, such as that seen in Moebius Syndrome (MoS)? MoS, a rare congenital neurological disorder, is characterized by paralysis of the face and diminished skeletal muscle feedback. Thus, it is possible that individuals with MoS have trouble identifying or processing emotion. To investigate this question, we used a set of computer-based behavioral tasks to characterize the ability of MoS patients to detect and label emotional facial expressions. Individuals with MoS and a group of healthy controls were shown morphs of neutral to fearful and neutral to happy faces, and were instructed to distinguish between fearful and neutral, and happy and neutral faces, with a button press. A one-up, three-down staircase procedure was used to determine each participant’s threshold for 79% accuracy. The same morph stimuli and staircase procedure were used in a feature-detection control task, where participants were instructed to indicate with a button press whether the face depicted an open or closed mouth. Analysis of threshold levels for the emotion-detection task revealed that individuals with MoS, compared to controls, showed a deficit in detecting fearful faces, but not happy faces. MoS individuals also performed similar to controls on the feature-detection control task. These results suggest that an emotion-detection deficit may be present in MoS, but further testing with additional patients is needed.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions