Impaired facial recognition in patients with ventromedial prefrontal hypoperfusion

Maarten Plessers, Marie Vandekerckhove, Kurt Beeckmans, Rolf Weiss, H. Markowitsch, Raymond Cluydts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)Research


Impaired emotion recognition is an important cause of the social problems often experienced by persons with brain damage (Radice-Neumann et al., 2007). The existing literature shows that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VmPFC) plays a critical role in recognizing facial emotions (Heberlein et al., 2008). This research is characterized by only using MRI-scans to assign patients to different groups and a systematical lack of examination of basic human emotions and implementing a second patient group (with diffuse brain damage) nor adequately matched healthy control groups.

Seventeen subjects with VmPFC hypoperfusion (VmPFC group), fourteen subjects with hypoperfusion in the brain with the exception of VmPFC and adjacent regions (posterior group) and seventeen healthy matched controls (control group) were asked to rate 140 faces (seven basic emotions: joy, anxiety, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness, neutral) by means of forced choice. Hits and false positives were examined. SPECT-scans localized hypoperfusion.

The VmPFC group and control group showed significant differences (p
The VmPFC group shows an impaired emotion recognition of anxiety, disgust and surprise and marginally impaired recognition of anger. There were no differences between the groups for sadness and joy. These results confirm the importance of the VmPFC in recognizing positive as well as negative facial emotions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFederation of European Societies of Neuropsychology (ESN) Congress
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Event - Congress Centre in Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 7 Sep 20119 May 2016


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  • emotion recognition
  • facial emotion recognition
  • ventromedial cortex
  • ventromedial damage

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