DOI: 10.1111/psyp.14398 ISSN: 0048-5772

Partner’s emotions are associated with preschoolers’ prefrontal activation under joint attention: An fNIRS evidence

Keya Ding, Chuanjiang Li, Yanwei Li, Hui Li
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neurology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • General Neuroscience


Emotions and joint attention are highly associated and mutually influenced during preschool, the critical period for early emotional and cognitive development. However, few studies have explored the neuropsychological mechanism of joint attention with preschoolers and their partners under different emotions. This study has examined the prefrontal activation under a comprehensive emotional joint attention task in 45 preschoolers (25 boys, Mage = 58 ± 9.02 months) to compare the different influences of partners' positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Analysis of the functional near‐infrared spectroscopy data indicated that the participants' prefrontal activation triggered by joint attention in positive and negative emotions was significantly higher than in neutral emotions. Moreover, their brain synchronization intensity was significantly higher in positive emotions of joint attention than in negative emotions. These findings advance our understanding of the neural mechanism of early childhood emotional processing under joint attention and provide a neural perspective to explain the effects of different emotions on preschoolers' social cognition.

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