Multimodal affective state assessment using fNIRS+ EEG and spontaneous facial expression

Yanjia Sun, Hasan Ayaz, Ali N. Akansu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Human facial expressions are regarded as a vital indicator of one’s emotion and intention, and even reveal the state of health and wellbeing. Emotional states have been associated with information processing within and between subcortical and cortical areas of the brain, including the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between spontaneous human facial affective expressions and multi-modal brain activity measured via non-invasive and wearable sensors: functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG) signals. The affective states of twelve male participants detected via fNIRS, EEG, and spontaneous facial expressions were investigated in response to both image-content stimuli and video-content stimuli. We propose a method to jointly evaluate fNIRS and EEG signals for affective state detection (emotional valence as positive or negative). Experimental results reveal a strong correlation between spontaneous facial affective expressions and the perceived emotional valence. Moreover, the affective states were estimated by the fNIRS, EEG, and fNIRS + EEG brain activity measurements. We show that the proposed EEG + fNIRS hybrid method outperforms fNIRS-only and EEG-only approaches. Our findings indicate that the dynamic (video-content based) stimuli triggers a larger affective response than the static (image-content based) stimuli. These findings also suggest joint utilization of facial expression and wearable neuroimaging, fNIRS, and EEG, for improved emotional analysis and affective brain–computer interface applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number85
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Brain
  • Computer interface (BCI)
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Facial emotion recognition
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)


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