Dynamics of the processing of social cues from faces: insights from MEG-EEG studies
Faces are key social stimuli that convey information about others' attentional direction, emotion, and more generally mental states, through changes in direction of gaze and emotional expression. While fMRI and PET studies have allowed the distributed architecture of the face processing network to be revealed, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) techniques offer a unique insight into the temporal dynamics of the processing of faces and social face cues. I will review a series of studies that I have run with MEG, EEG, and more recently intracerebral EEG, in order to characterize the temporal unfolding of the processing of gaze direction and emotion from faces in the adult human brain. These studies have revealed very early emotion-related modulation of the neuromagnetic responses to faces, fast and parallel processing of social attention and emotion-related cues, as well as identifying the key and flexible roles of brain regions such as the amygdala and the superior temporal sulcus in the processing of gaze and emotional expressions.