Predictors of amygdala activation during the processing of emotional stimuli: a meta-analysis of 385 PET and fMRI studies.

Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.
Brain Research Reviews (Impact Factor: 5.93). 07/2008; 58(1):57-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2007.10.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although amygdala activity has been purported to be modulated by affective and non-affective factors, considerable controversy remains on its precise functional nature. We conducted a meta-analysis of 385 functional neuroimaging studies of emotional processing, examining the effects of experimental characteristics on the probability of detecting amygdala activity. All emotional stimuli were associated with higher probability of amygdala activity than neutral stimuli. Comparable effects were observed for most negative and positive emotions, however there was a higher probability of activation for fear and disgust relative to happiness. The level of attentional processing affected amygdala activity, as passive processing was associated with a higher probability of activation than active task instructions. Gustatory-olfactory and visual stimulus modalities increased the probability of activation relative to internal stimuli. Aversive learning increased the probability of amygdala activation as well. There was some evidence of hemispheric specialization with a relative left-lateralization for stimuli containing language and a relative right-lateralization for masked stimuli. Methodological variables, such as type of analysis and magnet strength, were also independent predictors of amygdala activation.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Literature containing supra-natural, or magical events has enchanted generations of readers. When reading narratives describing such events, readers mentally simulate a text world different from the real one. The corresponding violation of world-knowledge during this simulation likely increases cognitive processing demands for ongoing discourse integration, catches readers' attention, and might thus contribute to the pleasure and deep emotional experience associated with ludic immersive reading. In the present study, we presented participants in an MR scanner with passages selected from the Harry Potter book series, half of which described magical events, while the other half served as control condition. Passages in both conditions were closely matched for relevant psycholinguistic variables including, e.g., emotional valence and arousal, passage-wise mean word imageability and frequency, and syntactic complexity. Post-hoc ratings showed that readers considered supra-natural contents more surprising and more strongly associated with reading pleasure than control passages. In the fMRI data, we found stronger neural activation for the supra-natural than the control condition in bilateral inferior frontal gyri, bilateral inferior parietal lobules, left fusiform gyrus, and left amygdala. The increased activation in the amygdala (part of the salience and emotion processing network) appears to be associated with feelings of surprise and the reading pleasure, which supra-natural events, full of novelty and unexpectedness, brought about. The involvement of bilateral inferior frontal gyri likely reflects higher cognitive processing demand due to world knowledge violations, whereas increased attention to supra-natural events is reflected in inferior frontal gyri and inferior parietal lobules that are part of the fronto-parietal attention network.
    PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(2). · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Reading is a complex higher-order cognitive activity unique to human beings, which transmits the sense, feeling, tone, and intention of the writer and brings pleasures. However, the neurocognitive aspects of emotion processing in literary reading are still hardly understood. This dissertation aims to investigate the affective processing mechanisms during literary reading. The neurocognitive poetics model of literary reading by Jacobs (2011, 2014) is referred to as guidance for the author to pose relevant research questions and to test key assumptions of the model. The foci of this dissertation include the lexical, inter-lexical level, and supra-lexical level. For this dissertation, an fMRI experiments were conducted, in which 120 text passages from the Harry Potter book series were presented. The passages presented contained three orthogonal factorial dimensions: Emotion, Supra-naturalness, and Language (L1 vs. L2). Chapter 2 investigates the emotion potential of single words in reading. Results showed significant correlations between affective lexical variables, passage ratings, as well as activity in regions associated with emotion, situation model building, multi-modal semantic integration, and Theory of Mind, suggesting that the emotion potential of texts can be predicted by lexical and inter-lexical affective variables. Chapter 3 investigates the neural correlates of the immersion reading experience. Immersion ratings were significantly higher for fear-inducing than for neutral passages, and activity in the mid-cingulate cortex correlated more strongly with immersion ratings of fear-inducing than neutral pas-sages. The results suggest that negatively valenced contents activate the affective empathy network and facilitate the immersive reading experience. Chapter 4 investigates the effect of world-knowledge violation during situation model construction. Readers assigned passages in the supra-natural condition significantly higher scores on dimensions of supra-naturalness, surprise, and reading pleasure. Neural correlates of reading supra-natural vs. neutral contents include neural correlates associated with world-knowledge integration, the salience network, emotion processing, and attention. Finally, the author investigated whether there is any quantitative or qualitative difference in emotion processing when reading in L1 vs. L2 at the neuronal level. At the behavioral and factorial fMRI results showed stronger perceived emotionality in L1 than in L2. Furthermore, MVPA results reading literature in L1 seems to provide a more differentiated emotional experience. Results of the present thesis supported the emotion potential of word recognition, fiction feelings, and the world knowledge violation in the neurocognitive poetics model. Furthermore, the salience, extended language, and ToM networks are extensively involved in the emotion processing in literary reading. Future studies on emotion processing in literary reading will benefit from this dissertation to develop more specific neuroscientific hypotheses on the causal relationships and interactions between different neural networks with more sophisticated methods, potentially applying such approaches to cross-linguistic/cultural studies.
    01/2015, Degree: Dr. phil. in Psychology, Supervisor: Arthur Jacobs
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous studies suggested that the emotional connotation of single words automatically recruits attention. We investigated the potential of words to induce emotional engagement when reading texts. In an fMRI experiment, we presented 120 text passages from the Harry Potter book series. Results showed significant correlations between affective word (lexical) ratings and passage ratings. Furthermore, affective lexical ratings correlated with activity in regions associated with emotion, situation model building, multi-modal semantic integration, and Theory of Mind. We distinguished differential influences of affective lexical, inter-lexical, and supra-lexical variables: differential effects of lexical valence were significant in the left amygdala, while effects of arousal-span (the dynamic range of arousal across a passage) were significant in the left amygdala and insula. However, we found no differential effect of pas- sage ratings in emotion-associated regions. Our results support the hypothesis that the emotion potential of short texts can be predicted by lexical and inter-lexical affective variables.
    Brain and Language 01/2015; 142:96-114. · 3.31 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 1, 2014