Attention to aversive emotion and specific activation of the right insula and right somatosensory cortex

Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Jena, Germany.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 10/2010; 54(3):2534-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The evaluation of emotional stimuli is based on different levels of information processing, ranging from rather automatic processes to focused attention to the emotional relevance of stimuli. The role of specific brain areas for these processes is a matter of debate. In this event-related fMRI study, we varied the information processing mode of participants exposed to aversive and neutral pictures. Based on four different tasks, participants' attentional focus onto the emotional quality of the stimuli and the own emotional involvement was increased systematically across tasks. Regardless of task, stronger activation to threatening vs. neutral pictures was found in several regions such as the amygdala, anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex, primary somatosensory cortex and medial prefrontal cortex. However, there was a parametric increase of activation with increasing attention to one's own emotion specifically in the right posterior insula and right primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, i.e. in areas implicated in self-awareness of a person's own body. These findings are in accordance with theories suggesting a crucial role of the perception of bodily states for emotional experiences.

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    • ", 1998 ) . For example , fear - related pictures increase activation in the right posterior insula and secondary somatosensory cortex ( Straube and Miltner , 2011 ) . Taken together , activation within the amygdala and insula in response to disharmonious combinations might have important biological implications . "
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    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00382 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "The same regions were found to be active when contrasting unpleasant with neutral pictures. It has been shown repeatedly that the human insula is involved in tasks that challenge the representation of bodily states as well as processing of emotions (Craig, 2009; Gu et al., 2010; Fan et al., 2011), especially for aversive emotions such as disgust and threat (Phillips et al., 1997, 1998; Adolphs, 2002; Straube and Miltner, 2011). Reliable co-variation of the insula and peri-insula with the LPP during aversive perception demonstrates that these structures contribute to the modulation of cortical potential during aversive events. "
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    • "These areas are also thought to play a crucial role in the understanding of visually presented emotions via a matching process between the emotional expression of a perceived face and an internal representation of one's own somatic state coupled with such emotion (Adolphs, 2002; Gallese and Goldman, 1998). This latter hypothesis has found varying experimental support from Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and neuroimaging studies (Banissy et al., 2010, 2011; Gazzola and Keysers, 2009; Jackson et al., 2005; Keysers and Perrett, 2004; Pitcher et al., 2008; Pourtois et al., 2004; Singer et al., 2004; Straube and Miltner, 2011; Wicker et al., 2003). In addition, lesions of the right somatosensory cortex were shown to be associated with severe difficulties in recognizing both facial (Adolphs et al., 2000) and body expressions of emotion (Heberlein et al., 2004). "
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