Signatures of emotional face processing measured by event-related potentials in 7-month-old infants

Özlü Aran, Sarah E. Garcia, Benjamin L. Hankin, Daniel C. Hyde, Elysia Poggi Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to distinguish facial emotions emerges in infancy. Although this ability has been shown to emerge between 5 and 7 months of age, the literature is less clear regarding the extent to which neural correlates of perception and attention play a role in processing of specific emotions. This study's main goal was to examine this question among infants. To this end, we presented angry, fearful, and happy faces to 7-month-old infants (N = 107, 51% female) while recording event-related brain potentials. The perceptual N290 component showed a heightened response for fearful and happy relative to angry faces. Attentional processing, indexed by the P400, showed some evidence of a heightened response for fearful relative to happy and angry faces. We did not observe robust differences by emotion in the negative central (Nc) component, although trends were consistent with previous work suggesting a heightened response to negatively valenced expressions. Results suggest that perceptual (N290) and attentional (P400) processing is sensitive to emotions in faces, but these processes do not provide evidence for a fear-specific bias across components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22361
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • N290
  • Nc
  • P400
  • emotions
  • face processing
  • infant ERP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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