The social evaluation of faces: A meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies

Peter Mende-siedlecki, Christopher P. Said, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

101 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neuroscience research on the social evaluation of faces has accumulated over the last decade, yielding divergent results. We used a meta-analytic technique, multi-level kernel density analysis (MKDA), to analyze 29 neuroimaging studies on face evaluation. Across negative face evaluations, we observed the most consistent activations in bilateral amygdala. Across positive face evaluations, we observed the most consistent activations in medial prefrontal cortex, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC), medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC), left caudate and nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Based on additional analyses comparing linear and non-linear responses, we propose a ventral/dorsal dissociation within the amygdala, wherein separate populations of neurons code for face valence and intensity, respectively. Finally, we argue that some of the differences between studies are attributable to differences in the typicality of face stimuli. Specifically, extremely attractive faces are more likely to elicit responses in NAcc/caudate and mOFC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernsr090
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Attractiveness
  • FMRI
  • Face evaluation
  • Face perception
  • Meta-analysis
  • Social cognition
  • Trait judgments
  • Trustworthiness

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