Non-conscious recognition of emotional body language

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Patients with cortical blindness can reliably perceive some facial expressions even if they are unaware of their percept. We examined whether emotional body language may also be recognized in the absence of the primary visual cortex and without conscious stimulus perception. We presented emotional and neutral body images in the blind field of a patient with unilateral striate cortex damage. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we measured activation following presentation to the blind hemifield of whole body images (happy, neutral) with the face blurred. Unseen happy body images selectively activated area MT and the pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus, while unseen instrumental neutral body images activated the premotor cortex. Our results show that in the absence of the striate cortex implicit bodily emotion perception may be possible.

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