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Neuroimage. 2007 Apr 1;35(2):959-67. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

Perceiving fear in dynamic body expressions.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Perception et de l'Action (LPPA), CNRS-Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France.


Characteristic fear behaviour like putting the hands in front of the face and running for cover provides strong fear signals to observers who may not themselves be aware of any danger. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans, we investigated how such dynamic fear signals from the whole body are perceived. A factorial design allowed us to investigate brain activity induced by viewing bodies, bodily expressions of fear and the role of dynamic information in viewing them. Our critical findings are threefold. We find that viewing neutral and fearful body expressions enhances amygdala activity; moreover actions expressing fear activate the temporal pole and lateral orbital cortex more than neutral actions; and finally differences in activations between static and dynamic bodily expressions were larger for actions expressing fear in the STS and premotor cortex compared to neutral actions.

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