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Enhanced processing of threat stimuli under limited attentional resources

De Martino, B.; Kalisch, R.; Rees, G.; Dolan, R.J.; (2009) Enhanced processing of threat stimuli under limited attentional resources. Cerebral Cortex , 19 (1) pp. 127-133. 10.1093/cercor/bhn062. Green open access

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Abstract

The ability to process stimuli that convey potential threat, under conditions of limited attentional resources, confers adaptive advantages. This study examined the neurobiology underpinnings of this capacity. Employing an attentional blink paradigm, in conjunction with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we manipulated the salience of the second of two face target stimuli (T2), by varying emotionality. Behaviourally, fearful T2 faces were identified significantly more than neutral faces. Activity in fusiform face area (FFA) increased with correct identification of T2 faces. Enhanced activity in rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) accounted for the benefit in detection of fearful stimuli reflected in a significant interaction between target valence and correct identification. Thus, under conditions of limited attention resources activation in rACC correlated with enhanced processing of emotional stimuli. We suggest that these data support a model in which a prefrontal “gate” mechanism controls conscious access of emotional information under conditions of limited attentional resources.

Type: Article
Title: Enhanced processing of threat stimuli under limited attentional resources
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn062
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhn062
Language: English
Keywords: Attention, attentional blink, emotion, fMRI, fusiform face area, rACC
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/5240
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