ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (8): 1832-1843.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01832

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Basic emotion and its neural basis: Evidence from fMRI and machine-vision studies

LIANG Fei, JIANG Yao, XIAO Tingwei, DONG Jie, WANG Fushun()   

  1. Institute of Brain and Psychological Science, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610066, China
  • Received:2021-07-08 Online:2022-08-15 Published:2022-06-23
  • Contact: WANG Fushun


Basic emotion theory is the most representative theory in the field of emotion science, which holds that human emotions are composed of a limited number of basic emotions, such as fear, anger, joy, sadness and so on. Basic emotions are evolved for fundamental life tasks, and each basic emotion has its own unique neural structure and physiological basis. Although basic emotion theories are widely accepted, there is little agreement on specific basic emotions. In recent decades, many fMRI studies have attempted to determine the unique neural structural underpinnings of each of the basic emotions, and made many important findings, such as disgust is related to the insula, sadness is related to the anterior cingulate gyrus, and the amygdala is an important limbic structure related to fear. However, recent meta-analysis studies have found that many basic emotions share many brain regions. Therefore, the theory of specific brain regions of basic emotions has been questioned and even denied. Through the discussion of the basic emotions and neural basis, as well as the latest functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of basic emotion theory analysis found that a lot of brain imaging data have reported certain basic emotion that is associated with a particular brain regions, different stimulation induced a kind of basic emotion is stable to activate the same brain regions. But these studies also raise questions. As Barrett notes, the amygdala is involved in almost all negative emotions, like fear, anger, and surprise. Therefore, it is likely that the amygdala was just involved in regulating arousal. Instead, we believe that the reason for the inconsistencies in these studies is that humans may have only three basic emotions: joy, fear (anger), and sadness. Many of the so-called different basic emotions are actually the same basic emotion. Fear and anger may be the same basic emotions, while surprise may be the cognitive component that induces fear and anger. They share a common neural basis: the amygdala. Recently, researchers have tried to interpret the facial expressions of laboratory rats by using machine-vision technology to process their facial features. Similarly, machine vision can be used to decode human facial expressions, emotion recognition and classification. Future research can focus on multiple forms of common and unique features and connections between features (such as functional brain connections), such as behavioral, physiological, visual cortex, eye movement, facial expression, fMRI imaging, EEG topography and other data features. At the same time, we can try to prototype emotions from many angles. Thus, it is expected to form multi-angle and multi-form emotion prototype, providing new ideas and new evidence for the research of basic emotion theory.

Key words: basic emotion, emotional dimension, fMRI, machine-vision, brain imaging

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