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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02371


  • 1Clinica di Riabilitazione Toscana Spa, Italy
  • 2Department of Mental Health, USL Tuscany Southeast, Italy
  • 3Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Background: Existing literature suggests that age affects recognition of affective facial expressions. Eye-tracking studies highlighted that age-related differences in recognition of emotions could be explained by different face exploration patterns due to attentional impairment. Gender also seems to play a role in recognition of emotions. Unfortunately, little is known about the differences in emotion perception abilities across lifespans for men and women, even if females show more ability from infancy.
Objective: The present study aimed to examine the role of age and gender on facial emotion recognition in relation to neuropsychological functions and face exploration strategies. We also aimed to explore the associations between emotion recognition and quality of life.
Methods: 60 healthy people were consecutively enrolled in the study and divided into two groups: Younger Adults and Older Adults. Participants were assessed for: emotion recognition, attention abilities, frontal functioning, memory functioning and quality of life satisfaction. During the execution of the emotion recognition test using the Pictures of Facial Affects (PoFA) and a modified version of PoFA (M-PoFA), subject’s eye movements were recorded with an Eye Tracker.
Results: Significant differences between younger and older adults were detected for fear recognition when adjusted for cognitive functioning and eye-gaze fixations characteristics. Adjusted means of fear recognition were significantly higher in the younger group than in the older group. With regard to gender’s effects, old females recognized identical pairs of emotions better than old males. Considering the Satisfaction Profile we detected negative correlations between some dimensions (Physical functioning, Sleep/feeding/free time) and emotion recognition (i.e. sadness, and disgust).
Conclusion: The current study provided novel insights into the specific mechanisms that may explain differences in emotion recognition, examining how age and gender differences can be outlined by cognitive functioning and face exploration strategies.

Keywords: emotion recognition, gender differences, age differences, Eye Movements, cognitive functioning, Satisfaction of life

Received: 19 Jun 2019; Accepted: 04 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Abbruzzese, Magnani, Robertson and Mancuso. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Laura Abbruzzese, Clinica di Riabilitazione Toscana Spa, MOntevarchi, Italy,