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Clear signals or mixed messages: Inter-individual emotion congruency modulates brain activity underlying affective body perception

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Abstract

The neural basis of emotion perception has mostly been investigated with single face or body stimuli. However, in daily life one may also encounter affective expressions by groups, for example, an angry mob or an exhilarated concert crowd. In what way is brain activity modulated when several individuals express similar rather than different emotions? We investigated this question using an experimental design in which we presented two stimuli simultaneously, with same or different emotional expressions. We hypothesized that, in the case of two same-emotion stimuli, brain activity would be enhanced, while in the case of two different emotions, one emotion would interfere with the effect of the other. The results showed that the simultaneous perception of different affective body expressions leads to a deactivation of the amygdala and a reduction of cortical activity. It was revealed that the processing of fearful bodies, compared to different-emotion bodies, relied more strongly on saliency and action triggering regions in inferior parietal lobe and insula, while happy bodies drove the occipito-temporal cortex more strongly. We showed that this design could be used to uncover important differences between brain networks underlying fearful and happy emotions. The enhancement of brain activity for unambiguous affective signals expressed by several people simultaneously supports adaptive behaviour in critical situations.

    Research areas

  • emotion, body perception, fMRI, amygdala, parietal lobe, occipito-temporal cortex, TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION, CYTOARCHITECTONIC MAPS, HUMAN AMYGDALA, FEARFUL FACES, WHOLE-BODY, CORTEX, FMRI, EXTRASTRIATE, EXPRESSIONS, SYSTEM

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1299–1309
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016