Event-related potentials of recognizing happy and neutral faces.
In event-related potentials (ERPs) studies, recognition memory is associated with two positivities: one over parietal regions, and one over frontal regions. With nameable neutral stimuli, such as words or common objects, the parietal effect is usually left lateralized, and the frontal effect is usually right lateralized. We investigated the lateralization of these effects for nonnameable emotional stimuli: unfamiliar faces with happy and neutral expressions. The parietal effect was bilateral, suggesting that the left lateralization of this effect in studies using nameable stimuli reflected verbal processing. The frontal effect was left lateralized for happy faces, but right lateralized for neutral faces. This finding is consistent with the valence hypothesis, which posits that processing of pleasant emotions is lateralized to the left hemisphere.
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