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Individual differences in laughter perception reveal roles for mentalizing and sensorimotor systems in the evaluation of emotional authenticity

McGettigan, C; Walsh, E; Jessop, R; Agnew, ZK; Sauter, DA; Warren, JE; Scott, SK; (2013) Individual differences in laughter perception reveal roles for mentalizing and sensorimotor systems in the evaluation of emotional authenticity. Cerebral Cortex 10.1093/cercor/bht227. Green open access

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Abstract

Humans express laughter differently depending on the context: polite titters of agreement are very different from explosions of mirth. Using functional MRI, we explored the neural responses during passive listening to authentic amusement laughter and controlled, voluntary laughter. We found greater activity in anterior medial prefrontal cortex (amPFC) to the deliberate, Emitted Laughs, suggesting an obligatory attempt to determine others' mental states when laughter is perceived as less genuine. In contrast, passive perception of authentic Evoked Laughs was associated with greater activity in bilateral superior temporal gyri. An individual differences analysis found that greater accuracy on a post hoc test of authenticity judgments of laughter predicted the magnitude of passive listening responses to laughter in amPFC, as well as several regions in sensorimotor cortex (in line with simulation accounts of emotion perception). These medial prefrontal and sensorimotor sites showed enhanced positive connectivity with cortical and subcortical regions during listening to involuntary laughter, indicating a complex set of interacting systems supporting the automatic emotional evaluation of heard vocalizations.

Type: Article
Title: Individual differences in laughter perception reveal roles for mentalizing and sensorimotor systems in the evaluation of emotional authenticity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bht227
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bht227
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com
Keywords: Emotion, Functional MRI, Laughter, Medial prefrontal cortex, Sensorimotor cortex
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1404536
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