When your face describes your memories: Facial expressions during retrieval of autobiographical memories

Mohamad El Haj*, Mohamed Daoudi, Karim Gallouj, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Jean Louis Nandrino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Thanks to the current advances in the software analysis of facial expressions, there is a burgeoning interest in understanding emotional facial expressions observed during the retrieval of autobiographical memories. This review describes the research on facial expressions during autobiographical retrieval showing distinct emotional facial expressions according to the characteristics of retrieved memoires. More specifically, this research demonstrates that the retrieval of emotional memories can trigger corresponding emotional facial expressions (e.g. positive memories may trigger positive facial expressions). Also, this study demonstrates the variations of facial expressions according to specificity, self-relevance, or past versus future direction of memory construction. Besides linking research on facial expressions during autobiographical retrieval to cognitive and affective characteristics of autobiographical memory in general, this review positions this research within the broader context research on the physiologic characteristics of autobiographical retrieval. We also provide several perspectives for clinical studies to investigate facial expressions in populations with deficits in autobiographical memory (e.g. whether autobiographical overgenerality in neurologic and psychiatric populations may trigger few emotional facial expressions). In sum, this review paper demonstrates how the evaluation of facial expressions during autobiographical retrieval may help understand the functioning and dysfunctioning of autobiographical memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-872
Number of pages12
JournalReviews in the Neurosciences
Volume29
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

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