Shy Kids Process Facial Expressions Differently

Have more trouble reading hostile or neutral emotions, researchers note

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TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Italian researchers say the brains of children who are very shy appear to have a different pattern of processing other peoples' neutral and hostile facial expressions.

They studied the responses of 49 shy schoolchildren in the third and fourth grade. The children were shown pictures of boys and girls with angry, joyful and neutral facial expressions. The children's responses to the photos were recorded by measuring their brain-wave activity. They also filled out questionnaires.

The study findings indicate that shy children seem to have diminished brain involvement and partially impaired reading in response to hostile or neutral facial expressions.

"Shy children have been shown to provide relatively distinct physiologic responses in a variety of contexts. These data suggest that a biased pattern of processing emotional information of social relevance can be recognized and characterized early in life," the study authors wrote.

The findings appear in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about shyness.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Jan. 3, 2005

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