Neuropsychology of fear and loathing

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK.
Nature reviews Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 31.43). 06/2001; 2(5). DOI: 10.1038/35072584
Source: PubMed


For over 60 years, ideas about emotion in neuroscience and psychology have been dominated by a debate on whether emotion can be encompassed within a single, unifying model. In neuroscience, this approach is epitomized by the limbic system theory and, in psychology, by dimensional models of emotion. Comparative research has gradually eroded the limbic model, and some scientists have proposed that certain individual emotions are represented separately in the brain. Evidence from humans consistent with this approach has recently been obtained by studies indicating that signals of fear and disgust are processed by distinct neural substrates. We review this research and its implications for theories of emotion.

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    • "Controlling for monetary amount, rejected offers were associated with a stronger insula response than those that were subsequently accepted, indicating that the accept/reject decision was influenced by the magnitude of anterior insula activation. Given the insula's association with basic negative emotional states, such as pain, disgust, and autonomic arousal (Calder et al., 2001), the involvement of this area in the experience of unfairness and the subsequent decision to punish showed that brain regions previously thought to be involved in low-level affective states could be recruited for the processing of complex social motivations. Further studies have shown that inducing negative moods in players prior to the receipt of unfair offers, a manipulation which appears to 'target' the anterior insula specifically, leads to increased rejection rates as compared to a non-negative mood induction (Harlé et al., 2012). "
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    • "The neural substrates for fear and disgust overlap in the amygdala, and the occipital and prefrontal areas, while the substrate for disgust also specifically involves the insular cortex (Calder et al., 2001; Stark et al., 2007). The emotional modulation of visual ERP components by disgust is unclear. "
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    ABSTRACT: According to the snake detection hypothesis (Isbell, 2006), fear specifically of snakes may have pushed evolutionary changes in the primate visual system allowing pre-attentional visual detection of fearful stimuli. A previous study demonstrated that snake pictures, when compared to spiders or bird pictures, draw more early attention as reflected by larger early posterior negativity (EPN). Here we report two studies that further tested the snake detection hypothesis. In Study 1, we tested whether the enlarged EPN is specific for snakes or also generalizes to other reptiles. Twenty-four healthy, non-phobic women watched the random rapid serial presentation of snake, crocodile, and turtle pictures. The EPN was scored as the mean activity at occipital electrodes (PO3, O1, Oz, PO4, O2) in the 225-300 ms time window after picture onset. The EPN was significantly larger for snake pictures than for pictures of the other reptiles. In Study 2, we tested whether disgust plays a role in the modulation of the EPN and whether preferential processing of snakes also can be found in men. 12 men and 12 women watched snake, spider, and slug pictures. Both men and women exhibited the largest EPN amplitudes to snake pictures, intermediate amplitudes to spider pictures and the smallest amplitudes to slug pictures. Disgust ratings were not associated with EPN amplitudes. The results replicate previous findings and suggest that ancestral priorities modulate the early capture of visual attention.
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    • "Overall feedback produced significantly higher activation in the bilateral amygdala under the “gain” and the “lose” contingencies than under the “combined” contingency. It is well documented that the amygdala plays an important role in processing negative and unpleasant emotions, such as fear and disgust (see Calder et al., 2001; Davis and Whalen, 2001 for review). Yet recent large meta-analyses of PET and fMRI studies on emotional processing have shown that the amygdala responded not only to negatively evaluated stimuli but also to positively evaluated stimuli (e.g., Sergerie et al., 2008; Mende-Siedlecki et al., 2013). "
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