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Effect of facial emotion recognition learning transfers across emotions

  • Bi, Taiyong1
  • Luo, Wei2
  • Wu, Jia1
  • Shao, Boyao1
  • Tan, Qingli1
  • Kou, Hui1
  • 1 Research Center of Humanities and Medicine, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi , (China)
  • 2 The Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing , (China)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 19, 2024
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1310101
  • Psychology
  • Original Research


Introduction Perceptual learning of facial expression is shown specific to the train expression, indicating separate encoding of the emotional contents in different expressions. However, little is known about the specificity of emotional recognition training with the visual search paradigm and the sensitivity of learning to near-threshold stimuli. Methods In the present study, we adopted a visual search paradigm to measure the recognition of facial expressions. In Experiment 1 (Exp1), Experiment 2 (Exp2), and Experiment 3 (Exp3), subjects were trained for 8 days to search for a target expression in an array of faces presented for 950 ms, 350 ms, and 50 ms, respectively. In Experiment 4 (Exp4), we trained subjects to search for a target of a triangle, and tested them with the task of facial expression search. Before and after the training, subjects were tested on the trained and untrained facial expressions which were presented for 950 ms, 650 ms, 350 ms, or 50 ms. Results The results showed that training led to large improvements in the recognition of facial emotions only if the faces were presented long enough (Exp1: 85.89%; Exp2: 46.05%). Furthermore, the training effect could transfer to the untrained expression. However, when the faces were presented briefly (Exp3), the training effect was small (6.38%). In Exp4, the results indicated that the training effect could not transfer across categories. Discussion Our findings revealed cross-emotion transfer for facial expression recognition training in a visual search task. In addition, learning hardly affects the recognition of near-threshold expressions.

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