Poster E95, Monday, March 26, 2:30-4:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Seen and heard emotions alter perception and cortisol
Vivian M. Ciaramitaro1, Sarah C. Izen1, Hannah E. Lapp1, Daniel A. Harris2, Richard G. Hunter1; 1University of Massachusetts Boston, Dept of Psychology, Developmental and Brain Sciences Program, 2Brown University, School of Public Health
Emotional states can be expressed through several modalities (e.g., body posture, facial expression, or the intonation in a voice) and are often experienced concurrently across our senses, such as seeing an emotional face while hearing an emotional voice. While much research has examined emotional processing within one sensory modality, less is known regarding how emotional information across our different senses interacts. We examined if visual and auditory emotional information of matched valence (congruent) conferred stronger perceptual and physiological effects compared to visual and auditory information of unmatched valence (incongruent). We quantified how a 3-minute exposure (adaptation) to emotional faces and/or voices biased perception and altered cortisol, a physiological proxy for stress or arousal. For each of 163 participants we quantified their unique neutral point, pre- and post-adaptation, by fitting data with a cumulative normal to determine the point of subjective equality, the face equally likely to be judged happy or angry. For a subset of 122 participants we also quantified the physiological stress response, pre- and post-adaptation, by measuring salivary cortisol. While we found no significant advantage in perceptual or physiological effects from congruent over incongruent emotional information, the weakest effects on perception and cortisol tended to arise from heard emotions. Furthermore, changes in cortisol were significantly associated with changes in perception. Following exposure to negative emotional information, we observed larger decreases in cortisol (indicative of less stress), which correlated with more positive perceptual after-effects (indicative of stronger biases to see a neutral face as happy).
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Multisensory