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Neuroimage. 2007 Aug 15;37(2):663-73. Epub 2007 May 22.

Hemodynamic brain correlates of disgust and fear ratings.

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Department of Clinical and Physiological Psychology and Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Otto-Behaghel-Str. 10F, 35394 Giessen, Germany.


Inconsistent findings from several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies on fear and disgust raise the question which brain regions are relatively specialized and which are general in the processing of these basic emotions. Some of these inconsistencies could partially be due to inter-individual differences in the experience of the applied emotional stimuli. In the present study, we therefore correlated the participants' individual online reports of fear and disgust with their hemodynamic responses towards each of the fear- and disgust-inducing scenes. Sixty six participants (32 females) took part in the fMRI study. In an event-related design, they saw 50 pictures with different emotional impact (10 neutral, 20 disgust-inducing, 20 fear-inducing). Pictures were presented for 4 s and participants rated each picture online - just after the presentation - on the dimensions disgust and fear among others. The results indicate that the processing of disgust- and fear-inducing pictures involves similar as well as distinct brain regions. Both emotional stimulus categories resulted in activations in the extended occipital cortex, in the prefrontal cortex, and in the amygdala. However, insula activations were only significantly correlated with subjective ratings of disgust, pointing to a specific role of this brain structure in the processing of disgust.

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