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Threat prompts defensive brain responses independently of attentional control

de Gelder, Beatrice
Grèzes, Julie
Published in Cerebral Cortex. 2012, vol. 22, no. 2, p. 274-285
Abstract Negative emotional signals are known to influence task performance, but so far, investigations have focused on how emotion interacts with perceptual processes by mobilizing attentional resources. The attention-independent effects of negative emotional signals are less well understood. Here, we show that threat signals trigger defensive responses independently of what observers pay attention to. Participants were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging while watching short video clips of threatening actions and performed either color or emotion judgments. Seeing threatening actions interfered with performance in both tasks. Amygdala activation reflected both stimulus and task conditions. In contrast, threat stimuli prompted a constant activity in a network underlying reflexive defensive behavior (periaqueductal gray, hypothalamus, and premotor cortex). Threat stimuli also disrupted ongoing behavior and provoked motor conflict in prefrontal regions during both tasks. The present results are consistent with the view that emotions trigger adaptive action tendencies independently of task settings.
Keywords AdolescentAdultAnalysis of VarianceAttention/physiologyBrain/blood supply/physiologyBrain MappingDefense MechanismsEmotions/physiologyFemaleHumansImage Processing, Computer-AssistedMagnetic Resonance ImagingMaleOxygen/bloodPhotic StimulationReaction TimeYoung Adult
PMID: 21666127
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PICHON, Swann Jean Antoine, DE GELDER, Beatrice, GRÈZES, Julie. Threat prompts defensive brain responses independently of attentional control. In: Cerebral Cortex, 2012, vol. 22, n° 2, p. 274-285. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr060 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:48182

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Deposited on : 2015-03-13

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