Poster A9, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Patterns of neural response during emotional face processing in 3-year-old children: a functional near-infrared spectroscopy study
Julia Cataldo1, Katherine Perdue1,2, Ruby Almanza1, Hannah Behrendt1,4, Charles Nelson1,2,3; 1Boston Children's Hospital, 2Harvard Medical School, 3Harvard Graduate School of Education, 4University Hospital RWTH Aachen
The ability to classify facial expressions is critical to navigating one's social environment. Prior work has explored the ability to process facial expressions of emotion in infancy, yet relatively little work has been done in the toddler period. Eye-tracking and event-related potentials have documented the emergence of an attentional bias to fearful faces at 7-months of age. The goal of this work is to examine the neural architecture of emotional face processing during early childhood using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). 3-year-old children (n = 40) were shown videos of female faces conveying neutral, happy, angry, and fearful expressions. To investigate the salience of threat-alerting facial cues, participants were also presented with videos of 40% intensity expressions of angry and fearful faces. A 46-channel fNIRS system was used to assess neural activation in the frontal, temporal and parietal cortex. Oxyhemoglobin responses were calculated for each emotional condition. The channel locations of significant differences in oxyhemoglobin response to happy, angry, and fearful faces compared to the response to neutral faces (p<0.05) display left lateralization in neural activity for happy and fearful faces. Significant activation to angry faces was found in the left parietal and right frontal cortex. These findings suggest differential patterns of brain response for happy, angry and fearful faces. Significant differences in oxyhemoglobin response to 40% vs. 100% intensity fearful faces were found in the left frontal cortex (p<0.05), suggesting increased processing of the lower intensity fearful expression.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Development & aging