The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been repeatedly reported to play an essential role in the regulation of social cognition in humans in general, and specifically in enhancing the recognition of emotions from facial expressions. The later was assessed in different paradigms that rely primarily on isolated and decontextualized emotional faces. However, recent evidence has indicated that the perception of basic facial expressions is not context invariant and can be categorically altered by context, especially body context, at early perceptual levels. Body context has a strong effect on our perception of emotional expressions, especially when the actual target face and the contextually expected face are perceptually similar. To examine whether and how OT affects emotion recognition, we investigated the role of OT in categorizing facial expressions in incongruent body contexts. Our results show that in the combined process of deciphering emotions from facial expressions and from context, OT gives an advantage to the face. This advantage is most evident when the target face and the contextually expected face are perceptually similar.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's Award (2010, Grant ID 18427 ) (Shamay-Tsoory).
- Body context
- Emotion perception
- Emotion recognition
- Facial expressions
- Social hormones