Depression symptoms bias the perception of facial expressions

Depression symptoms bias the perception of facial expressions
The research group of Piia Astikainen (right) uses EEG and MEG to measure brain activity. Credit: Petteri Kivimäki

Previous studies have reported attentive negative bias in visual information processing in depression, but it is not known whether there is a similar negative bias in automatic face perception. To investigate this issue, we applied magnetoencephalography (MEG) measurements to study brain responses to facial emotions in participants who had depression symptoms (dysphoria) and in non-depressed control participants.

The three stages of face processing (M100, M170, and M300 responses) and alterations of change detection (visual mismatch negativity, vMMN) were investigated from the MEG data. The dysphoric group differed from the control group at the M300 response. At the left occipital region of interest, the dysphoric group had larger amplitudes for sad deviant faces than happy ones, reflecting a negative bias in deviance detection not found in the control group.

On the other hand, the dysphoric group showed decreased vMMN to changes in , reflecting less efficient cortical change detection mechanism. Our results indicate that those with show a negative bias in automatic visual deviance detection, but also a general change detection deficit. These findings related to automatic face processing might have significant behavioral relevance that affects, for instance, real-life social interactions.

More information: Qianru Xu et al. Automatic Processing of Changes in Facial Emotions in Dysphoria: A Magnetoencephalography Study, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00186

Journal information: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Provided by University of Jyväskylä
Citation: Depression symptoms bias the perception of facial expressions (2018, May 22) retrieved 4 December 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Do people subconsciously judge face-likeness?


Feedback to editors