The perception of positive and negative facial expressions in unilateral brain-damaged patients: A meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • How the brain is lateralised for emotion processing remains a key question in contemporary neuropsychological research. The right hemisphere hypothesis asserts that the right hemisphere dominates emotion processing, whereas the valence hypothesis holds that positive emotion is processed in the left hemisphere and negative emotion is controlled by the right hemisphere. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess unilateral brain-damaged individuals' performance on tasks of facial emotion perception according to valence. A systematic search of the literature identified seven articles that met the conservative selection criteria and could be included in a meta-analysis. A total of 12 meta-analyses of facial expression perception were constructed assessing identification and labelling tasks according to valence and the side of brain damage. The results demonstrated that both left and right hemisphere damage leads to impairments in emotion perception (identification and labelling) irrespective of valence. Importantly, right hemisphere damage prompted more pronounced emotion perception impairment than left hemisphere damage, across valence, suggesting right hemisphere dominance for emotion perception. Furthermore, right hemisphere damage was associated with a larger tendency for impaired perception of negative than positive emotion across identification and labelling tasks. Overall the findings support Adolphs, Jansari, and Tranel (2001) model whereby the right hemisphere preferentially processes negative facial expressions and both hemispheres process positive facial expressions.

publication date

  • July 2013