Course Description: This course is based upon material published in the Oxford Journals and is available as an open access article.
Perception and evaluation of facial expressions are known to be heavily modulated by emotional features of contextual information. Such contextual effects, however, might also be driven by non-emotional aspects of contextual information, an interaction of emotional and non-emotional factors, and by the observers_ inherent traits. Therefore, we sought to assess whether contextual information about self-reference in addition to information about valence influences the evaluation and neural processing of neutral faces. Furthermore, we investigated whether social anxiety moderates these effects.
In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, participants viewed neutral facial expressions preceded by a contextual sentence conveying either positive or negative evaluations about the participant or about somebody else. Contextual influences were reflected in rating and fMRI measures, with strong effects of self-reference on brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and right fusiform gyrus. Additionally, social anxiety strongly affected the response to faces conveying negative, self-related evaluations as revealed by the participants_ rating patterns and brain activity in cortical midline structures and regions of interest in the left and right middle frontal gyrus. These results suggest that face perception and processing are highly individual processes influenced by emotional and non-emotional aspects of contextual information and further modulated by individual personality traits.
This course on the perception and evaluation of facial expressions is designed for social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, nurses, and substance abuse counselors, who do clinical work. This course is appropriate for beginning, intermediate and advanced level practitioners who wish to develop their understanding of facial expressions. The course material includes a brief literature review. It may also be useful for licensed clinicians who require clinical continuing education courses for license renewal.
The course is based on a journal article which includes research. It contains statistical analysis and data that some clinicians enjoy reading and others do not. A major benefit of reading research based articles for continuing education is they provide practitioners with the latest findings in their field.
Authors: Schwarz, Mathias, Gerdes, Muhlberger, Pauli.
Learning Objectives: This course will provide the practitioner with detailed information regarding context influences in facial expressions. Specifically, a professional will:
Describe the effects of social anxiety on the evaluation and neural processing of neutral faces.
Identify the impact of self-reference and valence on brain responses.
Recognize whether contextual information about self-reference in addition to information about valence influences the evaluation and neural processing of neutral faces.
Citation: Schwarz, K. A., Mathias, J. W., Gerdes, A. B. M., Muhlberger, A., Pauli, P., (2013). Why Are You Looking Like That? How The Context Influences Evaluation and Processing of Human Faces. Oxford Journals: Social Cognitive and Affective neuroscience. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss013