Emotional faces are often salient cues of threats or other important contexts, and may therefore have a large effect on cognitive processes of the visual environment. Indeed, many behavioral studies have demonstrated that emotional information can modulate visual attention and eye movements. The aim of the present study was to investigate (1) how irrelevant emotional face distractors affect saccadic behaviors and (2) whether such emotional effects reflect a specific neural mechanism or merely biased selective attention. We combined a visual search paradigm that incorporated manipulation of different types of distractor (fearful faces or scrambled faces) and delivered anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the superior temporal sulcus and the frontal eye field to investigate the functional roles of these areas in processing facial expressions and eye movements. Our behavioral data suggest that irrelevant emotional distractors can modulate saccadic behaviors. The tDCS results showed that while rFEF played a more general role in controlling saccadic behavior, rSTS is mainly involved in facial expression processing. Furthermore, rSTS played a critical role in processing facial expressions even when such expressions were not relevant to the task goal, implying that facial expressions and processing may be automatic irrespective of the task goal.
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|已出版 - 1 11月 2014