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Neuroimage. 2011 Jan 15;54(2):1755-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.08.012. Epub 2010 Aug 17.

Similarities and differences in perceiving threat from dynamic faces and bodies. An fMRI study.

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Cognitive and Affective Neurosciences Laboratory, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands.


Neuroscientific research on the perception of emotional signals has mainly focused on how the brain processes threat signals from photographs of facial expressions. Much less is known about body postures or about the processing of dynamic images. We undertook a systematic comparison of the neurofunctional network dedicated to processing facial and bodily expressions. Two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments investigated whether areas involved in processing social signals are activated differently by threatening signals (fear and anger) from facial or bodily expressions. The amygdala (AMG) was more active for facial than for bodily expressions. Body stimuli triggered higher activation than face stimuli in a number of areas. These were the cuneus, fusiform gyrus (FG), extrastriate body area (EBA), temporoparietal junction (TPJ), superior parietal lobule (SPL), primary somatosensory cortex (SI), as well as the thalamus. Emotion-specific effects were found in TPJ and FG for bodies and faces alike. EBA and superior temporal sulcus (STS) were more activated by threatening bodies.

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