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Critchley, H.D.et al. Activity in the human brain predicting differential heart rate responses to emotional facial expressions. Neuroimage24, 751-762

Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, UCL, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 03/2005; 24(3):751-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.10.013
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ABSTRACT The James-Lange theory of emotion proposes that automatically generated bodily reactions not only color subjective emotional experience of stimuli, but also necessitate a mechanism by which these bodily reactions are differentially generated to reflect stimulus quality. To examine this putative mechanism, we simultaneously measured brain activity and heart rate to identify regions where neural activity predicted the magnitude of heart rate responses to emotional facial expressions. Using a forewarned reaction time task, we showed that orienting heart rate acceleration to emotional face stimuli was modulated as a function of the emotion depicted. The magnitude of evoked heart rate increase, both across the stimulus set and within each emotion category, was predicted by level of activity within a matrix of interconnected brain regions, including amygdala, insula, anterior cingulate, and brainstem. We suggest that these regions provide a substrate for translating visual perception of emotional facial expression into differential cardiac responses and thereby represent an interface for selective generation of visceral reactions that contribute to the embodied component of emotional reaction.

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    • "Like all feelings of body states, such as feelings of cold or heat (Craig et al., 2000), hunger or fullness (Del Parigi et al., 2002), feelings of emotion-related physiological states are thought to come most fully into awareness in the anterior insula (AI). Though various cortical and subcortical systems contribute to emotion, mood, and their regulation (e.g., amygdala, hypothalamus , cingulate cortex), the AI is the cortical terminus for the interoceptive maps from which conscious affective experiences are thought to be constructed, such as maps of emotion-related heart-rate changes (Craig, 2002; Critchley et al., 2005). "
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