The perception of positive and negative facial expressions by unilateral stroke patients Academic Article uri icon


  • There remains conflict in the literature about the lateralisation of affective face perception. Some studies have reported a right hemisphere advantage irrespective of valence, whereas others have found a left hemisphere advantage for positive, and a right hemisphere advantage for negative, emotion. Differences in injury aetiology and chronicity, proportion of male participants, participant age, and the number of emotions used within a perception task may contribute to these contradictory findings. The present study therefore controlled and/or directly examined the influence of these possible moderators. Right brain-damaged (RBD; n=17), left brain-damaged (LBD; n=17), and healthy control (HC; n=34) participants completed two face perception tasks (identification and discrimination). No group differences in facial expression perception according to valence were found. Across emotions, the RBD group was less accurate thanthe HC group, however RBD and LBD group performancedid not differ. The lack of difference between RBD and LBD groups indicates that both hemispheres are involved in positive and negative expression perception. The inclusion of older adults and the well-defined chronicity range of the brain-damaged participants may have moderated these findings. Participant sex and general face perception ability did not influence performance. Furthermore, while the RBD group was less accurate than the LBD group when the identification task tested two emotions, performance of the two groups was indistinguishable when the number of emotions increased (four or six). This suggests that task demand moderates a study's ability to find hemispheric differences in the perception of facial emotion.

publication date

  • 2014