Vuilleumier P, Pourtois G. Distributed and interactive brain mechanisms during emotion face perception: evidence from functional neuroimaging. Neuropsychologia 45: 174-194

Laboratory for Behavioral Neurology & Imaging of Cognition, Clinic of Neurology, University Hospital of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 02/2007; 45(1):174-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.06.003
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Brain imaging studies in humans have shown that face processing in several areas is modulated by the affective significance of faces, particularly with fearful expressions, but also with other social signals such gaze direction. Here we review haemodynamic and electrical neuroimaging results indicating that activity in the face-selective fusiform cortex may be enhanced by emotional (fearful) expressions, without explicit voluntary control, and presumably through direct feedback connections from the amygdala. fMRI studies show that these increased responses in fusiform cortex to fearful faces are abolished by amygdala damage in the ipsilateral hemisphere, despite preserved effects of voluntary attention on fusiform; whereas emotional increases can still arise despite deficits in attention or awareness following parietal damage, and appear relatively unaffected by pharmacological increases in cholinergic stimulation. Fear-related modulations of face processing driven by amygdala signals may implicate not only fusiform cortex, but also earlier visual areas in occipital cortex (e.g., V1) and other distant regions involved in social, cognitive, or somatic responses (e.g., superior temporal sulcus, cingulate, or parietal areas). In the temporal domain, evoked-potentials show a widespread time-course of emotional face perception, with some increases in the amplitude of responses recorded over both occipital and frontal regions for fearful relative to neutral faces (as well as in the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex, when using intracranial recordings), but with different latencies post-stimulus onset. Early emotional responses may arise around 120ms, prior to a full visual categorization stage indexed by the face-selective N170 component, possibly reflecting rapid emotion processing based on crude visual cues in faces. Other electrical components arise at later latencies and involve more sustained activities, probably generated in associative or supramodal brain areas, and resulting in part from the modulatory signals received from amygdala. Altogether, these fMRI and ERP results demonstrate that emotion face perception is a complex process that cannot be related to a single neural event taking place in a single brain regions, but rather implicates an interactive network with distributed activity in time and space. Moreover, although traditional models in cognitive neuropsychology have often considered that facial expression and facial identity are processed along two separate pathways, evidence from fMRI and ERPs suggests instead that emotional processing can strongly affect brain systems responsible for face recognition and memory. The functional implications of these interactions remain to be fully explored, but might play an important role in the normal development of face processing skills and in some neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Available from: Patrik Vuilleumier, Oct 04, 2015
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    • "Brain activation patterns induced by affect recognition tasks have been described extensively based on conventional functional imaging data (for a review see Vuilleumier and Pourtois, 2007). To date, no EEG source localization analyses triggered by a behavioural index of cognitive control (such as a fi xation on a face) has been conducted within an affect recognition task. "
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    ABSTRACT: Training of Affect Recognition (TAR) is a useful approach to restoring cognitive function in schizophrenic patients. Along with improving visual exploration of faces and altering central information processing in relevant brain areas, TAR attenuates impairments in facial affect recognition. In the present study, we investigate the effects of TAR on early electrophysiological correlates of facial affect recognition in schizophrenia. The study population comprised 12 schizophrenic patients and 14 healthy controls. In each individual, we carried out EEG, concomitant measurements of scanning eye movements and fixation-based low resolution electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) analyses of brain electric activity. All analyses were performed at baseline and after participation in TAR. In patients, brain activation patterns significantly changed after completing the TAR. Functional improvements were particularly pronounced in the superior parietal and inferior parietal lobes, where trained patients showed a larger increase in activation than untrained healthy controls. The TAR activates compensatory brain processes involved in the perception, attention and evaluation of emotional stimuli. This may underlie the established behavioral effects of the TAR in schizophrenic patients, which include improvements in facial affect recognition and alterations of visual exploration strategies.
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    • "While our results suggest that abnormalities at the level of basic face perception contribute to impaired facial emotion perception in schizophrenia , this does not preclude the existence of dysfunction at other stages of processing facial emotions. The network serving social cognition is highly distributed and interconnected, including multiple processing routes (Adolphs, 2002; Vuilleumier and Pourtois, 2007). Underactivation of OFA and FFA might subsequently disrupt processing at later stages and/or lead to the recruitment of compensatory mechanisms, for example, by submitting an ambiguous perceptual representation from visual areas to frontal cortical regions involved in applying conceptual knowledge to evaluate that representation. "
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    • "Rapid Q3 responses to emotional arousal stimuli, especially potentially biologically relevant stimuli, such as snakes, tigers, or pictures of accidents, particularly when attentional resources are limited, is believed to be evolutionarily significant to humans (Schupp et al., 2006; Vuilleumier and Pourtois, 2007). Understanding the temporal characteristics of rapid emotion processing can help improve emotion recognition, allowing us to make the proper response. "
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