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Hum Brain Mapp. 2005 Sep;26(1):65-79.

Enhanced extrastriate visual response to bandpass spatial frequency filtered fearful faces: time course and topographic evoked-potentials mapping.

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Neurology and Imaging of Cognition, Clinic of Neurology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


We compared electrical brain responses to fearful vs. neutral facial expressions in healthy volunteers while they performed an orthogonal gender decision task. Face stimuli either had a broadband spatial-frequency content, or were filtered to create either low spatial-frequency (LSF) or high spatial-frequency (HSF) faces, always overlapped with their complementary SF content in upside-down orientation to preserve the total stimulus energy. We tested the hypothesis that the coarse LSF content of faces might be responsible for an early modulation of event-related potentials (ERPs) to fearful expressions. Consistent with previous findings, we show that broadband images of fearful faces, relative to neutral faces, elicit a higher global field power of approximately 130 ms poststimulus onset, corresponding to an increased P1 component over lateral occipital electrodes, with neural sources located within the extrastriate visual cortex. Bandpass filtering of faces strongly affected the latency and amplitude of ERPs, with a suppression of the normal N170 response for both LSF and HSF faces, irrespective of expression. Critically, we found that LSF information from fearful faces, unlike HSF information, produced a right-lateralized enhancement of the lateral occipital P1, without any change in the scalp topography, relative to unfiltered (broadband) fearful faces. These results demonstrate that an early P1 response to fear expression depends on a visual pathway preferentially tuned to coarse-magnocellular inputs, and can persist unchanged even when the N170 generators are disrupted by SF filtering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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