Event-Related Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of Posterior Superior Temporal Sulcus Improves the Detection of Threatening Postural Changes in Human Bodies

Department of Psychology, University of Rome La Sapienza, I-00185 Rome, Italy.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.34). 11/2011; 31(48):17547-54. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0697-11.2011
Source: PubMed


Perceiving others' emotions through their body movements and postures is crucial for successful social interaction. While imaging studies indicate that perceiving body emotions relies upon a wide network of subcortico-cortical neural regions, little is known on the causative role of different nodes of this network. We applied event-related repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over nonfacial, body- and action-related extrastriate (EBA), temporal (pSTS), and premotor (vPM) cortices to test their active contribution in perceiving changes between two successive images of either threatening or neutral human body or animal postures. While stimulation of EBA and vPM showed no selective effect on threatening stimuli with respect to neutral ones, rTMS over pSTS selectively impaired neutral posture detection and increased the accuracy in detecting changes of threatening human postures with respect to all other experimental conditions. No such effect was found for animal stimuli. These results support the notion that pSTS is crucially devoted to the detection of socially relevant information concerning others' actions, fostering the notion that amygdalo-temporo-cortical modulatory connections mediate perception of emotionally salient body postures.

Full-text preview

Available from:
  • Source
    • "ions ( anger , sadness ) , not of positive or neutral faces ( Ferrucci et al . , 2012 ) . A selective effect for negative emotional stimuli was also reported in a study by Candidi et al . ( 2011 ) , showing that rTMS over right pSTS specifically deteriorated the detection of threatening human body postures , not the detection of neutral postures ( Candidi et al . , 2011 ) . Also repetitive TMS over the frontal sensorimotor system specifically interfered with the recognition of faces expressing anger and fear , not happy or neutral faces ( Balconi and Bortolotti , 2012 ) . Several studies on emotional face processes indicated that distinct emotions may be processed differently . For example , by using t"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Perceiving human motion, recognizing actions, and interpreting emotional body language are tasks we perform daily and which are supported by a network of brain areas including the human posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). Here, we applied transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with anodal (excitatory) or cathodal (inhibitory) electrodes mounted over right pSTS (target) and orbito-frontal cortex (reference) while healthy participants performed a bodily emotion recognition task using biological motion point-light displays (PLDs). Performance (accuracy and reaction times) was also assessed on a control task which was matched to the emotion recognition task in terms of cognitive and motor demands. Each subject participated in two experimental sessions, receiving either anodal or cathodal stimulation, which were separated by one week to avoid residual effects of previous stimulations. Overall, tDCS brain stimulation did not affect the recognition of emotional states from PLDs. However, when emotions with a negative or positive-neutral emotional valence were analyzed separately, effects of stimulation were shown for recognizing emotions with a negative emotional valence (sadness and anger), indicating increased recognition performance when receiving anodal (excitatory) stimulation compared to cathodal (inhibitory) stimulation over pSTS. No stimulation effects were shown for the recognition of emotions with positive-neutral emotional valences. These findings extend previous studies showing structure-function relationships between STS and biological motion processing from PLDs and provide indications that stimulation effects may be modulated by the emotional valence of the stimuli.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
  • Source
    • "Similarly, dual coil TMS paradigms show that stimulation of parietal (Koch et al., 2010) and dorsal premotor (Catmur et al., 2011) cortices influences motor excitability during action observation, in a way that is similar to that caused by stimulation of the inferior frontal cortex (Koch et al., 2010; Catmur et al., 2011). Finally, it is also worth noting that performance in some action perception tasks is impaired after stimulation of the temporal nodes of the AON; for example, repetitive stimulation of STS reduces the sensitivity of biological motion perception (Grossman et al., 2005; van Kemenade et al., 2012), alters the ability to detect small postural changes in neutral and angry body images (Candidi et al., 2011), and disrupts the recognition of the outcome of complex sport actions (Makris and Urgesi, 2014). On the other hand, tasks involving the representation of abstract action goals independently of the effector are affected by stimulation of fronto–parietal but not of temporal areas (Cattaneo et al., 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several neurophysiologic and neuroimaging studies suggested that motor and perceptual systems are tightly linked along a continuum rather than providing segregated mechanisms supporting different functions. Using correlational approaches, these studies demonstrated that action observation activates not only visual but also motor brain regions. On the other hand, brain stimulation and brain lesion evidence allows tackling the critical question of whether our action representations are necessary to perceive and understand others' actions. In particular, recent neuropsychological studies have shown that patients with temporal, parietal, and frontal lesions exhibit a number of possible deficits in the visual perception and the understanding of others' actions. The specific anatomical substrates of such neuropsychological deficits however, are still a matter of debate. Here we review the existing literature on this issue and perform an anatomic likelihood estimation meta-analysis of studies using lesion-symptom mapping methods on the causal relation between brain lesions and non-linguistic action perception and understanding deficits. The meta-analysis encompassed data from 361 patients tested in 11 studies and identified regions in the inferior frontal cortex, the inferior parietal cortex and the middle/superior temporal cortex, whose damage is consistently associated with poor performance in action perception and understanding tasks across studies. Interestingly, these areas correspond to the three nodes of the action observation network that are strongly activated in response to visual action perception in neuroimaging research and that have been targeted in previous brain stimulation studies. Thus, brain lesion mapping research provides converging causal evidence that premotor, parietal and temporal regions play a crucial role in action recognition and understanding.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
  • Source
    • "However, it should be noted that both the involvement of each stream and their connectivity with emotional regions might vary according to stimulus category, as shown by neuroimaging explorations and studies examining brain-damaged patients. Indeed, differential occipito-temporal regions are activated during the processing of specific emotional stimuli [faces (Barton, 2003; Pitcher et al., 2008), body postures (Moro et al., 2008; Candidi et al., 2011)], and fronto-parietal networks are also involved in the simulation of observed facial and body movements (Urgesi et al., 2007; Avenanti et al., 2013). The visuo–emotional interactions described below might thus be influenced by variations in the type and movement of the stimuli. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotional visual perception deficits constitute a major problem in alcohol-dependence. Indeed, the ability to assess the affective content of external cues is a key adaptive function, as it allows on the one hand the processing of potentially threatening or advantageous stimuli, and on the other hand the establishment of appropriate social interactions (by enabling rapid decoding of the affective state of others from their facial expressions). While such deficits have been classically considered as reflecting a genuine emotion decoding impairment in alcohol-dependence, converging evidence suggests that underlying visual deficits might play a role in emotional alterations. This hypothesis appears to be relevant especially as data from healthy populations indicate that a coarse but fast analysis of visual inputs would allow emotional processing to arise from early stages of perception. After reviewing those findings and the associated models, the present paper underlines data showing that rapid interactions between emotion and vision could be impaired in alcohol-dependence and provides new research avenues that may ultimately offer a better understanding of the roots of emotional deficits in this pathological state.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Show more