Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory

Schindler S, Zell E, Botsch M, Kißler J (2017)
Scientific Reports 7: 45003.

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Journal Article | Original Article | Published | English
Abstract
Cartoon characters are omnipresent in popular media. While few studies have scientifically investigated their processing, in computer graphics, efforts are made to increase realism. Yet, close approximations of reality have been suggested to evoke sometimes a feeling of eeriness, the “uncanny valley” effect. Here, we used high-density electroencephalography to investigate brain responses to professionally stylized happy, angry, and neutral character faces. We employed six face-stylization levels varying from abstract to realistic and investigated the N170, early posterior negativity (EPN), and late positive potential (LPP) event-related components. The face-specific N170 showed a u-shaped modulation, with stronger reactions towards both most abstract and most realistic compared to medium-stylized faces. For abstract faces, N170 was generated more occipitally than for real faces, implying stronger reliance on structural processing. Although emotional faces elicited highest amplitudes on both N170 and EPN, on the N170 realism and expression interacted. Finally, LPP increased linearly with face realism, reflecting activity increase in visual and parietal cortex for more realistic faces. Results reveal differential effects of face stylization on distinct face processing stages and suggest a perceptual basis to the uncanny valley hypothesis. They are discussed in relation to face perception, media design, and computer graphics.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Schindler S, Zell E, Botsch M, Kißler J. Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory. Scientific Reports. 2017;7: 45003.
Schindler, S., Zell, E., Botsch, M., & Kißler, J. (2017). Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory. Scientific Reports, 7, 45003. doi:10.1038/srep45003
Schindler, S., Zell, E., Botsch, M., and Kißler, J. (2017). Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory. Scientific Reports 7:45003.
Schindler, S., et al., 2017. Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory. Scientific Reports, 7: 45003.
S. Schindler, et al., “Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory”, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017, : 45003.
Schindler, S., Zell, E., Botsch, M., Kißler, J.: Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory. Scientific Reports. 7, : 45003 (2017).
Schindler, Sebastian, Zell, Eduard, Botsch, Mario, and Kißler, Johanna. “Differential effects of face-realism and emotion on event-related brain potentials and their implications for the uncanny valley theory”. Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 45003.
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