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Congenital Anosmia and Facial Emotion Recognition

Drummond, J, Makdani, A, Pawling, R and Walker, SC (2024) Congenital Anosmia and Facial Emotion Recognition. Physiology & Behavior, 278. ISSN 0031-9384

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Major functions of the olfactory system include guiding ingestion and avoidance of environmental hazards. People with anosmia report reliance on others, for example to check the edibility of food, as their primary coping strategy. Facial expressions are a major source of non-verbal social information that can be used to guide approach and avoidance behaviour. Thus, it is of interest to explore whether a life-long absence of the sense of smell heightens sensitivity to others' facial emotions, particularly those depicting threat. In the present, online study 28 people with congenital anosmia (mean age 43.46) and 24 people reporting no olfactory dysfunction (mean age 42.75) completed a facial emotion recognition task whereby emotionally neutral faces (6 different identities) morphed, over 40 stages, to express one of 5 basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, or sadness. Results showed that, while the groups did not differ in their ability to identify the final, full-strength emotional expressions, nor in the accuracy of their first response, the congenital anosmia group successfully identified the emotions at significantly lower intensity (i.e. an earlier stage of the morph) than the control group. Exploratory analysis showed this main effect was primarily driven by an advantage in detecting anger and disgust. These findings indicate the absence of a functioning sense of smell during development leads to compensatory changes in visual, social cognition. Future work should explore the neural and behavioural basis for this advantage.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anger; Congenital Anosmia; Disgust; Dynamic Face; Facial Emotion Recognition; Olfaction; 06 Biological Sciences; 11 Medical and Health Sciences; 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences; Behavioral Science & Comparative Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier BV
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2024 10:45
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2024 10:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2024.114519
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22824
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