Brain circuits signaling the absence of emotion in body language.

Sokolov, Arseny A.; Zeidman, Peter; Erb, Michael; Pollick, Frank E; Fallgatter, Andreas J; Ryvlin, Philippe; Friston, Karl J; Pavlova, Marina A (2020). Brain circuits signaling the absence of emotion in body language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 117(34), pp. 20868-20873. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.2007141117

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Adaptive social behavior and mental well-being depend on not only recognizing emotional expressions but also, inferring the absence of emotion. While the neurobiology underwriting the perception of emotions is well studied, the mechanisms for detecting a lack of emotional content in social signals remain largely unknown. Here, using cutting-edge analyses of effective brain connectivity, we uncover the brain networks differentiating neutral and emotional body language. The data indicate greater activation of the right amygdala and midline cerebellar vermis to nonemotional as opposed to emotional body language. Most important, the effective connectivity between the amygdala and insula predicts people's ability to recognize the absence of emotion. These conclusions extend substantially current concepts of emotion perception by suggesting engagement of limbic effective connectivity in recognizing the lack of emotion in body language reading. Furthermore, the outcome may advance the understanding of overly emotional interpretation of social signals in depression or schizophrenia by providing the missing link between body language reading and limbic pathways. The study thus opens an avenue for multidisciplinary research on social cognition and the underlying cerebrocerebellar networks, ranging from animal models to patients with neuropsychiatric conditions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Sokolov, Arseny Alexandrovitsch


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




National Academy of Sciences NAS




Chantal Kottler

Date Deposited:

12 Nov 2020 16:09

Last Modified:

12 Nov 2020 16:09

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

body language effective connectivity emotion social cognition




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