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Qianli Meng, Wenli Qian, Ping Ren, Ning Liu, Ke Zhou, Yuanye Ma, Lin Chen; Interference between fear emotion and topological perception and its neural correlation in amygdala. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1307. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.1307.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
This paper reported an interesting, yet counter-intuitive, finding that fear-emotion interfered specifically with the topological perception of holes, a typical kind of topological property. Applying the affective priming paradigm combined with the configural processing paradigm, 12 experiments systematically measured the priming effect of fear-emotion on the discriminability of holes. Both scenery and face served as emotional priming stimuli; a broad spectrum of local geometrical properties (e.g., symmetry, orientation, parallelism, and collinearity) and colors were compared; and presentation conditions, such as durations and making conditions, were varied. Nevertheless, the results consistently showed that fearful pictures significantly increased the RTs with the discriminations of holes. Two more experiments, employing conditioning and backward masking paradigms, strengthened these results by the finding that such interference is specific to fear without being consciously perceived. Angry faces conditioned (CS+) (by shock acoustic), nonconditioned (CS-), and neutral faces were used as priming stimuli, masked by neutral faces. SCRs were also measured. Nevertheless, reliable interferences of CS+ on discriminability of holes were found, while no effects were observed with CS- and neutral faces. fMRI was applied to further measure neural correlation of topological discrimination, contrasting the activation category of topological configural tasks with the baseline category of non-topological ones. The group analysis of fMRI data, using ROIs defined by localizer tasks and by anatomic structures, showed a major activation at right amygdala. As claimed by global-first topological approach, visual processing starts with the extraction of topological properties. On the other hand, fear, as a basic survival mechanism, is considered as one of basic or innate emotions. Viewed from evolutionary perspective, it may become understandable that topological perception and fear activate common brain areas, particularly amygdala. Such interaction between topological perception and fear may open a new window to look into "Where the visual processing begins".
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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