, Volume 13, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 103-106
Date: 17 Jul 2012

Enhanced embodied response following ambiguous emotional processing

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It has generally been assumed that high-level cognitive and emotional processes are based on amodal conceptual information. In contrast, however, “embodied simulation” theory states that the perception of an emotional signal can trigger a simulation of the related state in the motor, somatosensory, and affective systems. To study the effect of social context on the mimicry effect predicted by the “embodied simulation” theory, we recorded the electromyographic (EMG) activity of participants when looking at emotional facial expressions. We observed an increase in embodied responses when the participants were exposed to a context involving social valence before seeing the emotional facial expressions. An examination of the dynamic EMG activity induced by two socially relevant emotional expressions (namely joy and anger) revealed enhanced EMG responses of the facial muscles associated with the related social prime (either positive or negative). These results are discussed within the general framework of embodiment theory.