When mind and body align: examining the role of cross-modal congruency in conscious representations of happy facial expressions

Cognition and Emotion 38 (2):267-275 (2024)
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Abstract

This study explored how congruency between facial mimicry and observed expressions affects the stability of conscious facial expression representations. Focusing on the congruency effect between proprioceptive/sensorimotor signals and visual stimuli for happy expressions, participants underwent a binocular rivalry task displaying neutral and happy faces. Mimicry was either facilitated with a chopstick or left unrestricted. Key metrics included Initial Percept (bias indicator), Onset Resolution Time (time from onset to Initial Percept), and Cumulative Time (content stabilization measure). Results indicated that mimicry manipulation significantly impacted Cumulative Time for happy faces, highlighting the importance of congruent mimicry in stabilizing conscious awareness of facial expressions. This supports embodied cognition models, showing the integration of proprioceptive information significantly biases conscious visual perception of facial expressions.

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