Effects of Lesion Variables and Emotion Type on the Perception of Facial Emotion

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The purpose of this study was to consider the effects of valence, motoric direction (i.e., approach/withdrawal), and arousal on the perception of facial emotion in patients with unilateral cortical lesions. We also examined the influence of lesion side, site, and size on emotional perception. Subjects were 30 right-hemisphere-damaged (RHD) and 30 left-hemisphere-damaged (LHD) male patients with focal lesions restricted primarily to the frontal, temporal, or parietal lobe. Patient groups were comparable on demographic and clinical neurological variables. Subjects were tested for their ability to match photographs of four facial emotional expressions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Overall, RHD patients were significantly more impaired than LHD patients in perceiving facial emotion. Lesion side, but not site, was associated with motoric direction and valence dimensions. RHD patients had specific deficits relative to LHD patients in processing negative and withdrawal emotions; there were no group differences for positive/approach emotions. Lesion size was not significantly correlated with accuracy of emotional perception.

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