Amygdala responds to direct gaze in real but not in computer-generated faces

Jari Kätsyri*, Beatrice de Gelder, Aline W. de Borst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
229 Downloads (Pure)


Computer-generated (CG) faces are an important visual interface for human-computer interaction in social contexts. Here we investigated whether the human brain processes emotion and gaze similarly in real and carefully matched CG faces. Real faces evoked greater responses in the fusiform face area than CG faces, particularly for fearful expressions. Emotional (angry and fearful) facial expressions evoked similar activations in the amygdala in real and CG faces. Direct as compared with averted gaze elicited greater fMRI responses in the amygdala regardless of facial expression but only for real and not for CG faces. We observed an interaction effect between gaze and emotion (i.e., the shared signal effect) in the right posterior temporal sulcus and other regions, but not in the amygdala, and we found no evidence for different shared signal effects in real and CG faces. Taken together, the present findings highlight similarities (emotional processing in the amygdala) and differences (overall processing in the fusiform face area, gaze processing in the amygdala) in the neural processing of real and CG faces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116216
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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