Empathy in facial mimicry of fear and disgust: simultaneous EMG-fMRI recordings during observation of static and dynamic facial expressions

Krystyna Rymarczyk , Łukasz Żurawski , Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda , Iwona Szatkowska


Real-life faces are dynamic by nature, particularly when expressing emotion. Increasing evidence suggests that the perception of dynamic displays enhances facial mimicry and induces activation in widespread brain structures considered to be part of the mirror neuron system, a neuronal network linked to empathy. The present study is the first to investigate the relations among facial muscle responses, brain activity, and empathy traits while participants observed static and dynamic (videos) facial expressions of fear and disgust. During display presentation, blood-oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal as well as muscle reactions of the corrugator supercilii and levator labii were recorded simultaneously from 46 healthy individuals (21 females). It was shown that both fear and disgust faces caused activity in the corrugator supercilii muscle, while perception of disgust produced facial activity additionally in the levator labii muscle, supporting a specific pattern of facial mimicry for these emotions. Moreover, individuals with higher, compared to individuals with lower, empathy traits showed greater activity in the corrugator supercilii and levator labii muscles; however, these responses were not differentiable between static and dynamic mode. Conversely, neuroimaging data revealed motion and emotional-related brain structures in response to dynamic rather than static stimuli among high empathy individuals. In line with this, there was a correlation between electromyography (EMG) responses and brain activity suggesting that the Mirror Neuron System, the anterior insula and the amygdala might constitute the neural correlates of automatic facial mimicry for fear and disgust. These results revealed that the dynamic property of (emotional) stimuli facilitates the emotional-related processing of facial expressions, especially among whose with high trait empathy
Author Krystyna Rymarczyk (Wydział Psychologii)
Krystyna Rymarczyk,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Łukasz Żurawski
Łukasz Żurawski,,
, Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda (Wydział Psychologii)
Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Iwona Szatkowska
Iwona Szatkowska,,
Journal seriesFrontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, (N/A 70 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.95
Keywords in Englishfacial mimicry, EMG, fMRI, mirror neuron system, emotional expressions, dynamic, disgust, fear
ASJC Classification3200 General Psychology
URL https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00701/full
Languageen angielski
Empathy in Facial Mimicry of Fear_ Rymarczyk. 2019.pdf 734.21 KB
Additional file
Oswiadczenie_K.Jankowiak-Siuda_Empathy.pdf 21.33 KB
Oswiadczenie_K.Rymarczyk_Empathy.pdf 21.79 KB
Score (nominal)70
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 1.006; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 2.089 (2) - 2017=2.749 (5)
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