Recent application of theories of embodied or grounded cognition to the recognition and interpretation of facial expression of emotion has led to an explosion of research in psychology and the neurosciences. However, despite the accelerating number of reported findings, it remains unclear how the many component processes of emotion and their neural mechanisms actually support embodied simulation. Equally unclear is what triggers the use of embodied simulation versus perceptual or conceptual strategies in determining meaning. The present article integrates behavioral research (...) from social psychology with recent research in neurosciences in order to provide coherence to the extant and future research on this topic. The roles of several of the brain's reward systems, and the amygdala, somatosensory cortices, and motor centers are examined. These are then linked to behavioral and brain research on facial mimicry and eye gaze. Articulation of the mediators and moderators of facial mimicry and gaze are particularly useful in guiding interpretation of relevant findings from neurosciences. Finally, a model of the processing of the smile, the most complex of the facial expressions, is presented as a means to illustrate how to advance the application of theories of embodied cognition in the study of facial expression of emotion. (shrink)
Zajonc and Markus published a chapter in 1984 that proposed solutions to the difficult problem of modeling interactions between cognition and emotion. The most radical of their proposals was the importance of the motor system in information processing. These initial preoccupations, when wedded with the vascular theory of emotional efference (VTEE), propelled theory and research about how the face works to control emotion and to control interpersonal interaction. We discuss the development of Bob’s thinking about facial expression—facial efference is the (...) term he preferred—as he moved toward predictions that sounded radical at the time, and which these days sound like precursors to advances in neuroscience and psychology subsumed under the term “embodied cognition.”. (shrink)
Niedenthal et al. discuss the importance of eye gaze in embodied simulation and, more globally, in the processing of emotional visual stimulation (such as facial expression). In this commentary, we illustrate the relationship between oriented eye movements, consciousness, and emotion by using the case of severely brain-injured patients recovering from coma (i.e., vegetative and minimally conscious patients).
The set of 30 stimulating commentaries on our target article helps to define the areas of our initial position that should be reiterated or else made clearer and, more importantly, the ways in which moderators of and extensions to the SIMS can be imagined. In our response, we divide the areas of discussion into (1) a clarification of our meaning of (2) a consideration of our proposed categories of smiles, (3) a reminder about the role of top-down processes in the (...) interpretation of smile meaning in SIMS, (4) an evaluation of the role of eye contact in the interpretation of facial expression of emotion, and (5) an assessment of the possible moderators of the core SIMS model. We end with an appreciation of the proposed extensions to the model, and note that the future of research on the problem of the smile appears to us to be assured. (shrink)