Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Andrew Mienaltowski (Director), J. Farley Norman, and Lance Hahn

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


The recognition accuracy of emotion in faces varies depending on the discrete emotion being expressed and the location of the stimulus. More specifically, emotion detection performance declines as facial stimuli are presented further out in the periphery. Interestingly, this is not always true for faces depicting happy emotional expressions, which can be associated with maintained levels of detection. The current study examined neurophysiological responses to emotional face discrimination in the periphery. Two event-related potentials (ERPs) that can be sensitive to the perception of emotion in faces, P1 and N170, were examined using EEG data recorded from electrodes at occipitotemporal sites on the scalp. Participants saw a face presented at a 0° angle of eccentricity, at a 10° angle of eccentricity, or at a 20° angle of eccentricity, and responded whether the face was a specific emotion or neutral. Results showed that emotion detection was higher when faces were presented at the center of the display than at 10° or 20° for both happy and angry expressions. Likewise, the voltage amplitude of the N170 component was greater when faces were presented at the center of the display than at 10° or 20°. Further exploration of the data revealed that high intensity expressions were more easily detected at each location and elicited a larger amplitude N170 than low intensity expressions for both emotions. For a peripheral emotion discrimination task like that which was employed in the current study, emotion cues seem to enhance face processing at peripheral locations.


Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Psychology