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Prog Brain Res. 2006;156:93-103.

The neural basis of narrative imagery: emotion and action.

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NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention, University of Florida, PO Box 100165 HSC, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA.


It has been proposed that narrative emotional imagery activates an associative network of stimulus, semantic, and response (procedural) information. In previous research, predicted response components have been demonstrated through psychophysiological methods in peripheral nervous system. Here we investigate central nervous system concomitants of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant narrative imagery with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects were presented with brief narrative scripts over headphones, and then imagined themselves engaged in the described events. During script perception, auditory association cortex showed enhanced activation during affectively arousing (pleasant and unpleasant), relative to neutral imagery. Structures involved in language processing (left middle frontal gyrus) and spatial navigation (retrosplenium) were also active during script presentation. At the onset of narrative imagery, supplementary motor area, lateral cerebellum, and left inferior frontal gyrus were initiated, showing enhanced signal change during affectively arousing (pleasant and unpleasant), relative to neutral scripts. These data are consistent with a bioinformational model of emotion that considers response mobilization as the measurable output of narrative imagery.

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