Spatiotemporal Dynamics for Emotional Processing
2011, 19 (8):
This is a review of the research work on emotional processing that Dr. Qian Luo and colleagues have performed in recent years. Using behavioral and brain imaging techniques including fMRI and MEG, we have identified the neural mechanisms underlying privileged and automatic processing of emotional stimuli. These are revealed first by showing the neural basis for emotional processing at the subliminal level. Particularly enhanced activation in occipitotemporal cortex, amygdala and attention-related regions for emotional relative to neutral stimuli presented subliminally possibly underlie the biased processing of emotional stimuli even when stimuli are unseen. Second, we revealed the spatiotemporal dynamics and functional connectivity between regions involved in emotional processing. Particularly, we provided first direct evidence in humans that the quick automatic emotional response is based on the subcortical route from thalamus to amygdala. Moreover, the spatiotemporal development between regions sensory cortex, amygdala, frontal cortex were also identified. Thirdly we investigated the interaction between emotion and attention. We found that amygdala automaticity was a function of time: while early amygdala responding to emotional stimuli was unaffected by attention, later amygdala response, subsequent to frontoparietal cortex activity, was modulated by attentional load.
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