Postersession 3
Poster #: 48
Topic: Diagnostics and inter-individual differences
Friday, Sep 11, 2015
1st floor

Automatic processing of schematic faces depending on their gaze direction and eyebrow angle: relations with depression and anxiety

Annika Kask1, Nele Põldver2, Kertu Saar3, Liina Juuse1, Jüri Allik1, Risto Näätänen1, & Kairi Kreegipuu1

1Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
2Department of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
3Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

It has been shown that mood affects automatic perception of schematic emotional faces evoking smaller visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) at posterior sites for depressive participants as compared to controls (Chang et al., 2010). In our study, emotional processing was studied with induction of vMMN, using the optimal paradigm with several schematic faces (defined by mouth, eyebrow angles, and gaze direction) as deviant stimuli. In addition, subjective evaluations to stimuli and scores to self-reported questionnaires (on personality, positive and negative emotions, impulsivity, emotional feeling) were registered (n=33). According to grand averaged vMMN curves and literature two intervals of vMMN were analyzed: 90-200 ms and 200-340 ms. The difference of the eyebrow angle and gaze direction proved to be important for subjective evaluations, but from the analysis of the EEG data no significant differences were found in the amplitudes of the negative peaks. However, there seem to be some individual differences in processing of unattended emotional faces, especially the neutral deviant. Also, gaze direction proved to be a relevant characteristic, eyebrow angle on the other hand, did not. Positive or negative mood or personality did not elict a significant relation to vMMN. The analysis showed a correlation between the tendency to be depressed or anxcious and the size of vMMN. These results indicate that the more depressed and anxcious individuals were, the smaller amplitude they produced, presumably because of a more narrow and focused processing of targets.