Michael D Hunter

The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (61)278.05 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have investigated the neural basis of effortful emotion regulation (ER) but the neural basis of automatic ER has been less comprehensively explored. The present study investigated the neural basis of automatic ER supported by ‘implementation intentions’. 40 healthy participants underwent fMRI while viewing emotion-eliciting images and used either a previously-taught effortful ER strategy, in the form of a goal intention (e.g., try to take a detached perspective), or a more automatic ER strategy, in the form of an implementation intention (e.g., “If I see something disgusting, then I will think these are just pixels on the screen!”), to regulate their emotional response. Whereas goal intention ER strategies were associated with activation of brain areas previously reported to be involved in effortful ER (including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), ER strategies based on an implementation intention strategy were associated with activation of right inferior frontal gyrus and ventro-parietal cortex, which may reflect the attentional control processes automatically captured by the cue for action contained within the implementation intention. Goal intentions were also associated with less effective modulation of left amygdala, supporting the increased efficacy of ER under implementation intention instructions, which showed coupling of orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala. The findings support previous behavioural studies in suggesting that forming an implementation intention enables people to enact goal-directed responses with less effort and more efficiency.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · PLoS ONE
  • Tom F.D. Farrow · Jenny Burgess · Iain D. Wilkinson · Michael D. Hunter
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    ABSTRACT: Self-deception and impression-management comprise two types of deceptive, but generally socially acceptable behaviours, which are common in everyday life as well as being present in a number of psychiatric disorders. We sought to establish and dissociate the ‘normal’ brain substrates of self-deception and impression-management. Twenty healthy participants underwent fMRI scanning at 3T whilst completing the ‘Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding’ test under two conditions: ‘fake good’, giving the most desirable impression possible and ‘fake bad’ giving an undesirable impression. Impression-management scores were more malleable to manipulation via ‘faking’ than self-deception scores. Response times to self-deception questions and ‘fake bad’ instructions were significantly longer than to impression-management questions and ‘fake good’ instructions respectively. Self-deception and impression-management manipulation and ‘faking bad’ were associated with activation of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC). Impression-management manipulation was additionally associated with activation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left posterior middle temporal gyrus. ‘Faking bad’ was additionally associated with activation of right vlPFC, left temporo-parietal junction and right cerebellum. There were no supra-threshold activations associated with ‘faking good’. Our neuroimaging data suggest that manipulating self-deception and impression-management and more specifically ‘faking bad’ engages a common network comprising mPFC and left vlPFC. Shorter response times and lack of dissociable neural activations suggests that ‘faking good’, particularly when it comes to impression-management, may be our most practiced ‘default’ mode.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Neuropsychologia
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    ABSTRACT: Discerning a speaker's gender from their voice is a basic and crucial aspect of human communication. Voice pitch height, the perceptual correlate of fundamental frequency, is higher in females and provides a cue for gender discrimination. However, male and female voices are also differentiated by multiple other spectral and temporal characteristics, including mean formant frequency and spectral flux. The robust perceptual segregation of male and female voices is thought to result from processing the combination of discriminating features, which in neural terms may correspond to early sound object analysis occurring in non-primary auditory cortex. However, the specific mechanism for gender perception has been unclear. Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that discrete sites in non-primary auditory cortex are differentially activated by male and female voices, with female voices consistently evoking greater activation in the upper bank of the superior temporal sulcus and posterior superior temporal plane. This finding was observed at the individual subject-level in all 24 subjects. The neural response was highly specific: no auditory regions were more activated by male than female voices. Further, the activation associated with female voices was 1) larger than can be accounted for by a sole effect of fundamental frequency, 2) not due to psychological attribution of female gender and 3) unaffected by listener gender. These results demonstrate that male and female voices are represented as distinct auditory objects in the human brain, with the mechanism for gender discrimination being a gender-dependent activation-level cue in non-primary auditory cortex.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · NeuroImage
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    Robert Hoskin · M D Hunter · P W R Woodruff
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    ABSTRACT: Research concerning the impact of psychological stress on visual selective attention has produced mixed results. The current paper describes two experiments which utilise a novel auditory oddball paradigm to test the impact of psychological stress on auditory selective attention. Participants had to report the location of emotionally-neutral auditory stimuli, while ignoring task-irrelevant changes in their content. The results of the first experiment, in which speech stimuli were presented, suggested that stress improves the ability to selectively attend to left, but not right ear stimuli. When this experiment was repeated using tonal stimuli the same result was evident, but only for female participants. Females were also found to experience greater levels of distraction in general across the two experiments. These findings support the goal-shielding theory which suggests that stress improves selective attention by reducing the attentional resources available to process task-irrelevant information. The study also demonstrates, for the first time, that this goal-shielding effect extends to auditory perception.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Acta Psychologica
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    ABSTRACT: Studies investigating the neurophysiological basis of intrapersonal emotion regulation (control of one's own emotional experience) report that the frontal cortex exerts a modulatory effect on limbic structures such as the amygdala and insula. However, no imaging study to date has examined the neurophysiological processes involved in interpersonal emotion regulation, where the goal is explicitly to regulate another person's emotion. Twenty healthy participants (10 males) underwent fMRI while regulating their own or another person's emotions. Intrapersonal and interpersonal emotion regulation tasks recruited an overlapping network of brain regions including bilateral lateral frontal cortex, pre-supplementary motor area, and left temporo-parietal junction. Activations unique to the interpersonal condition suggest that both affective (emotional simulation) and cognitive (mentalizing) aspects of empathy may be involved in the process of interpersonal emotion regulation. These findings provide an initial insight into the neural correlates of regulating another person's emotions and may be relevant to understanding mental health issues that involve problems with social interaction.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    J M Nazimek · M D Hunter · R Hoskin · I Wilkinson · P W Woodruff
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    ABSTRACT: Predictive coding frameworks of perception propose that neural networks form predictions of expected input and generate prediction errors when the external input does not match expectation. We therefore investigated the processing of unexpected sounds and silence in the auditory cortex using fMRI. Unexpected sounds, when compared to expected sounds, evoked greater activation in large areas of the left temporal and insular cortices. Additionally the left middle temporal gyrus exhibited greater activation to unexpected events in general, whether sounds or silence, when compared to the corresponding expected events. These findings support predictive coding models of perception, which suggest that regions of the temporal cortex function to integrate sensory information with predictive signals during auditory perception.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Neuropsychologia
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    J M Nazimek · M D Hunter · R Hoskin · I Wilkinson · P W Woodruff
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    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t Predictive coding frameworks of perception propose that neural networks form predictions of expected input and generate prediction errors when the external input does not match expectation. We therefore investigated the processing of unexpected sounds and silence in the auditory cortex using fMRI. Unexpected sounds, when compared to expected sounds, evoked greater activation in large areas of the left temporal and insular cortices. Additionally the left middle temporal gyrus exhibited greater activation to unexpected events in general, whether sounds or silence, when compared to the corresponding expected events. These findings support predictive coding models of perception, which suggest that regions of the temporal cortex function to integrate sensory information with predictive signals during auditory perception.
    Full-text · Dataset · Jul 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Gravitational forces may lead to local changes in subarachnoid cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) layer thickness, which has important implications for neurophysiological modulation and recording techniques. This study examines the effect of gravitational pull associated with different head positions on the distribution of subarachnoid CSF using structural magnetic resonance imaging. Images of seven subjects in three different positions (supine, left lateral and prone) were statistically compared. Results suggest that subarachnoid CSF volume decreases on the side of the head closest to the ground, due to downward brain movement with gravity. These findings warrant future research into currently unexplored gravitation-induced changes in regional subarachnoid CSF thickness.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Physiological Measurement
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    J M Nazimek · M D Hunter · P W R Woodruff
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we aimed to present a hypothesis that would explain the mechanism of auditory hallucinations, one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia. We propose that auditory hallucinations arise from abnormalities in the predictive coding which underlies normal perception, specifically, from the absence or attenuation of prediction error. The suggested deficiencies in processing prediction error could arise from (1) abnormal modulation of thalamus by prefrontal cortex, (2) absence or impaired transmission of external input, (3) dysfunction of the auditory and association cortex, (4) neurotransmitter dysfunction and abnormal connectivity, and (5) hyperactivity activity in auditory cortex and broad prior probability. If there is no prediction error, the initially vague prior probability develops into an explicit percept in the absence of external input, as a result of a recursive pathological exchange between auditory and prefrontal cortex. Unlike existing explanations of auditory hallucinations, we propose concrete mechanisms which underlie the imbalance between perceptual expectation and external input. Impaired processing of prediction error is reflected in reduced mismatch negativity and increased tendency to report non-existing meaningful language stimuli in white noise, shown by those suffering from auditory hallucinations. We believe that the expectation-perception model of auditory hallucinations offers a comprehensive explanation of the underpinnings of auditory hallucinations in both patients and those not diagnosed with mental illness. Therefore, our hypothesis has the potential to fill the gaps in the existing knowledge about this distressing phenomenon and contribute to improved effectiveness of treatments, targeting specific mechanisms.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Medical Hypotheses

  • No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Schizophrenia Research
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    J M Nazimek · M D Hunter · P W R Woodruff
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    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t In this paper, we aimed to present a hypothesis that would explain the mechanism of auditory halluci-nations, one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia. We propose that auditory hallucinations arise from abnormalities in the predictive coding which underlies normal perception, specifically, from the absence or attenuation of prediction error. The suggested deficiencies in processing prediction error could arise from (1) abnormal modulation of thalamus by prefrontal cortex, (2) absence or impaired transmission of external input, (3) dysfunction of the auditory and association cortex, (4) neurotransmitter dysfunction and abnormal connectivity, and (5) hyperactivity activity in auditory cortex and broad prior probability. If there is no prediction error, the initially vague prior probability develops into an explicit percept in the absence of external input, as a result of a recursive pathological exchange between auditory and prefron-tal cortex. Unlike existing explanations of auditory hallucinations, we propose concrete mechanisms which underlie the imbalance between perceptual expectation and external input. Impaired processing of prediction error is reflected in reduced mismatch negativity and increased tendency to report non-existing meaningful language stimuli in white noise, shown by those suffering from auditory hallucina-tions. We believe that the expectation–perception model of auditory hallucinations offers a comprehen-sive explanation of the underpinnings of auditory hallucinations in both patients and those not diagnosed with mental illness. Therefore, our hypothesis has the potential to fill the gaps in the existing knowledge about this distressing phenomenon and contribute to improved effectiveness of treatments, targeting specific mechanisms.
    Full-text · Dataset · Mar 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Subjective assessment of emotional valence is typically associated with both brain activity and autonomic arousal. Accurately assessing emotional salience is particularly important when perceiving threat. We sought to characterize the neural correlates of the interaction between behavioral and autonomic responses to potentially threatening visual and auditory stimuli. Twenty-five healthy male subjects underwent fMRI scanning whilst skin conductance responses (SCR) were recorded. One hundred and eighty pictures, sentences, and sounds were assessed as "harmless" or "threatening." Individuals' stimulus-locked, phasic SCRs and trial-by-trial behavioral assessments were entered as regressors into a flexible factorial design to establish their separate autonomic and behavioral neural correlates, and convolved to examine psycho-autonomic interaction (PAI) effects. Across all stimuli, "threatening," compared with "harmless" behavioral assessments were associated with mainly frontal and precuneus activation with specific within-modality activations including bilateral parahippocampal gyri (pictures), bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and frontal pole (sentences), and right Heschl's gyrus and bilateral temporal gyri (sounds). Across stimulus modalities SCRs were associated with activation of parieto-occipito-thalamic regions, an activation pattern which was largely replicated within-modality. In contrast, PAI analyses revealed modality-specific activations including right fusiform/parahippocampal gyrus (pictures), right insula (sentences), and mid-cingulate gyrus (sounds). Phasic SCR activity was positively correlated with an individual's propensity to assess stimuli as "threatening." SCRs may modulate cognitive assessments on a "harmless-threatening" dimension, thereby modulating affective tone and hence behavior.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: The perception and judgement of social hierarchies forms an integral part of social cognition. Hierarchical judgements can be either self-referential or allocentric (pertaining to two or more external agents). In psychiatric conditions such as dissocial personality disorder and schizophrenia, the impact of hierarchies may be problematic. We sought to elucidate the brain regions involved in judging allocentric social hierarchies. Twenty-two healthy male subjects underwent three fMRI scans. During scanning, subjects answered questions concerning visually-presented target pairs of human individual's relative superiority within a specific social hierarchy or their perceived degree of social alliance (i.e., whether they were "friends or enemies"). Subjects also made judgements relating to target pairs' age, gender and fame to control for confounding factors and performed a baseline numerical task. Response times increased in line with hypothesized ascending executive load. Both social hierarchy and social alliance judgements activated left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), left dorsal inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and bilateral fusiform gyri. In addition, social alliance judgements activated right dorsal IFG and medial prefrontal cortex. When compared directly with social alliance, social hierarchy judgements activated left orbitofrontal cortex. Detecting the presence of social hierarchies and judging other's relative standing within them implicates the cognitive executive, in particular the VLPFC. Our finding informs accounts of 'normal' social cognition but our method also provides a means of probing the dissocial brain in personality disorder and schizophrenia where executive function may be dysfunctional.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · NeuroImage
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    ABSTRACT: Investigating auditory hallucinations that occur in health may help elucidate brain mechanisms which lead to the pathological experience of auditory hallucinations in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. In this study, we investigated healthy individuals who reported auditory hallucinations whilst falling asleep (hypnagogic hallucinations; HG) and waking up (hypnopompic hallucinations; HP). In an initial behavioural study, we found that subjects with a history of auditory HG/HP hallucinations (n = 26) reported significantly greater subjective sensitivity to environmental sounds than non-hallucinator controls (n = 74). Then, two fMRI experiments were performed. The first examined speech-evoked brain activation in 12 subjects with a history of auditory HG/HP hallucinations and 12 non-hallucinator controls matched for age, gender and IQ. The second fMRI experiment, in the same subjects, probed how brain activation was modulated by auditory attention using a bimodal selective attention paradigm. In the first experiment, the hallucinator group demonstrated significantly greater speech-evoked activation in the left supramarginal gyrus than the control group. In the second experiment, directing attention towards the auditory (vs. visual) modality induced significantly greater activation of the anterior cingulate gyrus in the hallucinator group than in the control group. These results suggest that hallucination proneness is associated with increased sensitivity of auditory and polysensory association cortex to auditory stimulation, an effect which might arise due to enhanced attentional bias from the anterior cingulate gyrus. Our data support the overarching hypothesis that top-down modulation of auditory cortical response characteristics may be a key mechanistic step in the generation of auditory hallucinations.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · NeuroImage
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    ABSTRACT: In the executive model of deception, the telling of a lie necessitates the inhibition of a veridical prepotent response (the truth), and such inhibition incurs a temporal penalty, manifest as a longer response time. If memory processes are engaged in generating such truths, then memory function should affect truthful and deceptive response times. To investigate this we examined the relationship between performance on a semantic knowledge deception task and a test of verbal memory in 40 college students. We found that verbal memory performance differentially affects the temporal parameters of truth and deception.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · The American Journal of Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we investigated brain mechanisms for the generation of subjective experience from objective sensory inputs. Our experimental construct was subjective tranquility. Tranquility is a mental state more likely to occur in the presence of objective sensory inputs that arise from natural features in the environment. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the neural response to scenes that were visually distinct (beach images vs. freeway images) and experienced as tranquil (beach) or non-tranquil (freeway). Both sets of scenes had the same auditory component because waves breaking on a beach and vehicles moving on a freeway can produce similar auditory spectral and temporal characteristics, perceived as a constant roar. Compared with scenes experienced as non-tranquil, we found that subjectively tranquil scenes were associated with significantly greater effective connectivity between the auditory cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, a region implicated in the evaluation of mental states. Similarly enhanced connectivity was also observed between the auditory cortex and posterior cingulate gyrus, temporoparietal cortex and thalamus. These findings demonstrate that visual context can modulate connectivity of the auditory cortex with regions implicated in the generation of subjective states. Importantly, this effect arises under conditions of identical auditory input. Hence, the same sound may be associated with different percepts reflecting varying connectivity between the auditory cortex and other brain regions. This suggests that subjective experience is more closely linked to the connectivity state of the auditory cortex than to its basic sensory inputs.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · NeuroImage
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    ABSTRACT: The clock drawing (CD) task involves visual integration skills associated with parietal lobe function. Seven mild Alzheimer's Disease (AD) patients and 11 healthy elderly controls (EC) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning while viewing a radial motion (RM) task. This RM task in EC activated the bilateral secondary visual cortex and parietal regions, whereas AD patients activated only the right-sided secondary visual cortex. The magnitude of the fMRI signal in the left superior parietal lobe was positively correlated with performance on the CD task in AD patients. These findings suggest that complex visuospatial processing impairments reflect the underlying AD neuropathology in parietal regions.
    Full-text · Article · May 2010 · The International journal of neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Our ability to interact physically with objects in the external world critically depends on temporal coupling between perception and movement (sensorimotor timing) and swift behavioral adjustment to changes in the environment (error correction). In this study, we investigated the neural correlates of the correction of subliminal and supraliminal phase shifts during a sensorimotor synchronization task. In particular, we focused on the role of the cerebellum because this structure has been shown to play a role in both motor timing and error correction. Experiment 1 used fMRI to show that the right cerebellar dentate nucleus and primary motor and sensory cortices were activated during regular timing and during the correction of subliminal errors. The correction of supraliminal phase shifts led to additional activations in the left cerebellum and right inferior parietal and frontal areas. Furthermore, a psychophysiological interaction analysis revealed that supraliminal error correction was associated with enhanced connectivity of the left cerebellum with frontal, auditory, and sensory cortices and with the right cerebellum. Experiment 2 showed that suppression of the left but not the right cerebellum with theta burst TMS significantly affected supraliminal error correction. These findings provide evidence that the left lateral cerebellum is essential for supraliminal error correction during sensorimotor synchronization.
    No preview · Article · May 2010 · Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Visuospatial impairments are known to occur in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We hypothesised that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) response in task-related brain regions would be impaired in patients with AD during the task and that treatment with acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors would enhance activations in brain regions concerned with this visual perceptual processing. Ten AD subjects were neuropsychologically assessed and underwent fMRI imaging whilst performing a series of visuospatial perception tasks, before and after treatment with acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors. Eleven healthy elderly comparison subjects were also scanned twice. Regions of increased brain activation in AD included the left precuneus, left cuneus, left supramarginal gyrus, right parieto-temporal cortex and right inferior parietal lobule. Further, increased activation in the left precuneus was found to correlate significantly with improved functioning of activities of daily living. We believe this to be the first fMRI study that, after controlling for the confound of repeat scanning, demonstrates altered patterns of brain activation associated with visuospatial processing following treatment in patients with AD. The treatment-related improvement of visual perception in AD may rely on enhanced attentional mechanisms, thereby possibly supporting independent living through improvement on activities of daily living.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: The neural basis of visuospatial deficits in Alzheimer's disease is unclear. We wished to investigate the neural basis of visuospatial perception in patients with Alzheimer's disease compared with healthy elderly comparison subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Twelve patients with AD and thirteen elderly comparison subjects were investigated. The patients were recruited from the local clinic and comparison subjects were from spouses and community. All participants underwent fMRI whilst viewing visuospatial stimuli and structural MRI, and findings were analysed using voxel-based morphometry. The comparison group activated V5, superior parietal lobe, parieto-occipital cortex and premotor cortices. The AD group demonstrated hypoactivation in the above regions and instead showed greater activation in inferior parietal lobule and activated additional areas. There was no structural atrophy above and beyond that found globally in patients in the identified regions of BOLD activation. To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore the neuroanatomy of perception of depth and motion in Alzheimer's disease. These specific functional deficits in AD provide evidence for an underlying patho-physiological basis for the clinically important symptom of visuospatial disorientation in patients with AD.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Psychiatry Research