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Functional brain networks involved in gaze and emotional processing.

Ziaei, M., Ebner, N.C. and Burianová, H., 2017. Functional brain networks involved in gaze and emotional processing. European Journal of Neuroscience, 45 (2), 312 - 320.

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DOI: 10.1111/ejn.13464


Eye-gaze direction plays a fundamental role in the perception of facial features and particularly the processing of emotional facial expressions. Yet, the neural underpinnings of the integration of eye gaze and emotional facial cues are not well understood. The primary aim of this study was to delineate the functional networks that subserve the recognition of emotional expressions as a function of eye gaze. Participants were asked to identify happy, angry, or neutral faces, displayed with direct or averted gaze, while their neural responses were measured with fMRI. The results showed that recognition of happy expressions, irrespective of eye-gaze direction, engaged the critical nodes of the default mode network. Recognition of angry faces, on the other hand, was gaze-dependent, engaging the critical nodes of the salience network when presented with direct gaze, but fronto-parietal areas when presented with averted gaze. Functional connectivity analysis further showed gaze-dependent engagement of a large-scale network connected to bilateral amygdala during the recognition of angry expressions. This study provides important insights into the functional connectivity between the amygdala and other critical social-cognitive brain nodes, which are essential in processing of ambiguous, potentially threatening social signals. These findings have implications for psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which are characterized by aberrant limbic connectivity.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:amygdala ; emotional expression ; eye gaze ; functional connectivity ; multivariate analysis ; Brain ; Emotions ; Facial Expression ; Female ; Fixation, Ocular ; Humans ; Magnetic Resonance Imaging ; Male ; Photic Stimulation ; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic ; Visual Perception
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34387
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:10 Aug 2020 11:05
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:23


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