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Neural Response to Emotional Stimuli of Phylogenetic and Ontogenetic Significance
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by Joaquin de Rojas, Elizabeth A. Kensinger - Boston College
Categories: Physiological | Emotion
Responses to affective stimuli are often discussed within an evolutionary framework, yet not all affective information has evolutionary significance. The present fMRI study compared neural activity to affective stimuli of phylogenetic (e.g., spider, smiling baby) versus ontogenetic (e.g., gun, money) origin. We hypothesized that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)—a region required to learn the affective import of information—would be more active when participants processed ontogenetic versus phylogenetic stimuli. The results supported this hypothesis, and the distinction held both for fear- and pleasure-evoking stimuli. These results suggest that the neural mechanisms supporting emotion processing can differ based on a stimulus's evolutionary import, with frontal processes recruited when a stimulus's salience is ontogenetic.
Spring 2010 | Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research (Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 34), published by Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2010, Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.