Brain detects happiness more quickly than sadness: experts

June 22nd, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 22 (IANS) Positive expressions such as happiness are perceived more quickly and precisely than negative or withdrawal ones such as fear, according to an international team of experts.
The researchers wanted to know how we process emotional expressions and looked at the pattern of cerebral asymmetry in the perception of positive and negative facial signals.

Eighty psychology students participated in the study. Differences between their cerebral hemispheres were analyzed using the “divided visual field” technique.

“What is new about this study is that working in this way ensures that the information is focused on one cerebral hemisphere or the other,” said J. Antonio Aznar-Casanova, a researcher at the University of Barcelona and one of the authors of the study.

The study reveals that the right hemisphere is better at processing emotions.

“However, this advantage appears to be more evident when it comes to processing happy and surprised faces than sad or frightened ones.

“Positive expressions, or expressions of approach, are perceived more quickly and more precisely than negative, or withdrawal, ones. So happiness and surprise are processed faster than sadness and fear,” Aznar-Casanova explained.

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of the journal Laterality.

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