An ERP investigation of age-related disruption of affective integration during the processing of emotional faces.

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2015 Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting


Age differences in emotional processing have been attributed to bias in emotional regulation or a deficit in emotional arousal.  We examined neural correlates of facial emotion processing for emotional arousal and regulation using event-related potential (ERP) measures. Specifically, we examined ERP components reflecting attentional and face processing (P1, P3) at occipital and parietal regions. Both younger and older adults performed a face emotional discrimination task (neutral, happy, or angry).  

For early ERPs (100-200 ms; P1), younger adults showed a higher-amplitude for negatively-valenced faces relative to neutral faces. In contrast, older adults exhibited greater amplitude for neutral faces relative to positively-valenced faces. For late ERPs (400-600 ms; P3), age differences remained. Younger-adult ERP amplitudes were greater for negative relative to neutral faces while older adults showed no bias for any emotion. These results suggest both an attenuated early emotional arousal and later emotional regulation response for older adults in emotional processing. 


James R. Houston, Joshua W. Pollock, Mei-Ching Lien, Philip A. Allen