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Neurosci Lett. 2004 Nov 11;370(2-3):91-6.

Neural correlates of internally-generated disgust via autobiographical recall: a functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation.

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Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


Converging lines of evidence suggest the involvement of the insula and basal ganglia in the processing of disgust, an important primary emotion that guides the avoidance of potential physical contamination and disease. Prior human lesion and functional brain imaging studies have employed exteroceptive sensory stimuli such as facial expressions of disgust, and disgust-eliciting pictures. Thus, the neural substrates underlying the internal experience of disgust remain unknown. The present fMRI study examined the neural correlates of self-induced disgust aided by the recall and re-experience of personally salient life events. Subjects were scanned while they recalled and re-experienced either a recent situation that evoked intense disgust or a time-matched, equally vivid neutral/non-emotional event. Relative to the emotionally neutral condition, self-induced disgust was associated with activation of the insula, hippocampus, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, and primary visual cortex. These findings suggest that areas previously associated with the perception of disgust (e.g., insula, basal ganglia) are also involved interoceptive experience of disgust.

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