Visual adaptation to emotional actions

Joanna Wincenciak, Jennifer Ingham, Nick Barraclough

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


We are able to recognise the emotions of other individuals by observing characteristic body movements during their actions. In this study we investigated mechanisms involved in coding emotional actions using a visual adaptation paradigm. We found that after adapting to an action (e.g. walking, lifting a box, sitting) performed conveying one emotion (happy or sad), the subsequent action performed was more likely to be judged as having the opposite emotion. This aftereffect showed similar characteristic dynamics as for other motion and face adaptation aftereffects, for example increasing magnitude with repetition of the adapting action. These emotional action aftereffects cannot be explained by low level adaptation, as they remain significant when actor identity and action differs between the adapting and test stimuli. We also found that emotional aftereffects transferred across faces and whole body actions indicating that emotions may be partially coded irrespective of body part. Our findings provide behavioural support for neuroimaging evidence for body-part independent visual representations of emotions in high-level visual brain areas (Peelen et al, 2010).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

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