Faculty Advisor

Andresen, David

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2011


The purpose of this study was to explore the role of the human mirror neuron system (hMNS) in the accurate identification of emotional facial expressions. Electroencephalography (EEG) was used to record Mu wave activity while participants preformed a series of video-matching tasks, in which they discriminated between facial stimuli by either emotional expression or model identity. A polygon-matching task was used as a baseline measure for mirror neuron activity. Mu Suppression Indices were calculated and compared between the identity-matching and emotion-matching conditions. Mu suppression was significantly increased in the emotion-matching condition, suggesting that the mirror neuron system is engaged to a greater extent during emotional facial expression processing than general face processing. Future research should further investigate this engagement of the hMNS, especially in relation to peripheral feedback mechanisms that might also be involved in recognizing emotional facial expressions.


University of Puget Sound