Brain Topography

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 149–163 | Cite as

Converging Evidence for the Advantage of Dynamic Facial Expressions

  • Marie Arsalidou
  • Drew Morris
  • Margot J. Taylor
Original Paper


Neuroimaging evidence suggests that dynamic facial expressions elicit greater activity than static face stimuli in brain structures associated with social cognition, interpreted as greater ecological validity. However, a quantitative meta-analysis of brain activity associated with dynamic facial expressions is lacking. The current study investigated, using three fMRI experiments, activity elicited by (a) dynamic and static happy faces, (b) dynamic and static happy and angry faces, and (c) dynamic faces and dynamic flowers. In addition, using activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis, we determined areas concordant across published studies that (a) used dynamic faces and (b) specifically compared dynamic and static emotional faces. The middle temporal gyri (Experiment 1) and superior temporal sulci (STS; Experiment 1 and 2) were more active for dynamic than static faces. In contrasts with the baseline the amygdalae were more active for dynamic faces (Experiment 1 and 2) and the fusiform gyri were active for all conditions (all Experiments). The ALE meta-analyses revealed concordant activation in all of these regions as well as in areas associated with cognitive manipulations (inferior frontal gyri). Converging data from the experiments and the meta-analyses suggest that dynamic facial stimuli elicit increased activity in regions associated with interpretation of social signals and emotional processing.


Dynamic facial expressions Facial motion fMRI ALE meta-analysis 



We thank Dr. Sarah Bayless for creating the dynamic stimuli. This work was supported by a CIHR grant to MJT (MOP-81161).

Supplementary material

10548_2011_171_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (114 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 113 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Arsalidou
    • 1
  • Drew Morris
    • 1
  • Margot J. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Diagnostic Imaging and Neurosciences & Mental Health, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick ChildrenUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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