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EMOBODIES Report Summary

Project ID: 295673
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - EMOBODIES (Bodies express emotions and actions in sociocultural context)

The project Emobodies addressed major questions on body language and emotions: Are bodies as important as faces in social interaction and communication? Do we rapidly and automatically recognize and react to somebody’s body expression? Do we need to be conscious of what this body expression means to us before we react to it?Are we automatically biased when seeing a black body expression? How does Virtual Reality contribute to understanding these issues? Does VR and by extension, playing videogames change cognitive and affective processes in the user?
The Emobodies project has used a range of methodologies and experiments, showing that perception of emotional body expressions is a fundamental skill, no less important than face recognition and is an essential component of successful nonverbal communication. Perception of whole body expressions is based on predicting and preparing adaptive actions. The neural mechanism is driven by the increased connectivity between processes for perception of affective signals and for action preparation. This operates relatively independent from explicit knowledge and consciousness. Consistent with this, studies of the critical brain areas for body perception using virtual reality show that seeing emotional body language automatically triggers preparation of adaptive actions. We have extended the Emobodies questions including multiple agent perception, gender specificity and race. We have investigated specific clinical aspects of the mechanisms of body perception engaging in collaborations including specific patient categories, congenitally blind participants and comparative studies (human-nonhuman amygdala functions). The project has resulted in over 50 publications and book chapters and in the publication of a book by the PI, Emotions and the body, OUP 2016.

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