Common and specific brain responses to scenic emotional stimuli
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Processing of emotions has been an enduring topic of interest in neuroimaging research, but studies have mostly used facial emotional stimuli. The aim of this study was to determine neural networks involved in emotion processing using scenic emotional visual stimuli. One hundred and twenty photographs from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), including ecological scenes of disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness, were presented to 40 healthy participants while they underwent functional magnetic imaging resonance (fMRI). Afterwards they evaluated the emotional content of the pictures in an offline task. The occipito-temporal cortex and the amygdala–hippocampal complex showed a non-specific emotion-related activation, which was more marked in response to negative emotions than to happiness. The temporo-parietal cortex and the ventral anterior cingulate gyrus showed deactivation, with the former being marked for all emotions except fear and the latter being most marked for disgust. The fusiform gyrus showed activation in response to disgust and deactivation in response to happiness or sadness. Brain regions involved in processing of scenic emotion therefore resemble those reported for facial expressions of emotion in that they respond to a range of different emotions, although there appears to be specificity in the intensity and direction of the response.
KeywordsAmygdala Anterior cingulate gyrus Emotion Functional magnetic resonance imaging Fusiform gyrus
This work was supported by the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), the Catalonian Government (2009SGR211 to the Research Unit of Benito Menni) and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Río Hortega research contract to Dr. Radua (CM11/00024); Miguel Servet research contracts to Drs. Salvador (CP07/00048) and Pomarol-Clotet (CP10/00596); Intensification grant to Dr. Sarró (10/231); and Research Projects to Drs. Pomarol-Clotet (PI10/01058) and Salvador (PI05/1874)).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest in relation to the present manuscript.
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