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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2016 Nov;11(11):1772-1782. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Is fear perception special? Evidence at the level of decision-making and subjective confidence.

Koizumi A1,2,3,4, Mobbs D5,6, Lau H7.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Columbia University 406 Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Ave MC 5501, New York, NY 10027, USA bellkoizumi@gmail.com.
2
US-Japan Brain Research Cooperation Program, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan.
3
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Tokyo, Japan.
4
Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet), National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 1-4 Yamadaoka, Suita City, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
5
Department of Psychology, Columbia University 406 Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Ave MC 5501, New York, NY 10027, USA.
6
California Institute of Technology, Humanities and Social Sciences, Baxter Hall 1200 E. California Blvd.Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
7
Department of Psychology & Brian Research Institute, UCLA 1285 Franz Hall, Bo 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.

Abstract

Fearful faces are believed to be prioritized in visual perception. However, it is unclear whether the processing of low-level facial features alone can facilitate such prioritization or whether higher-level mechanisms also contribute. We examined potential biases for fearful face perception at the levels of perceptual decision-making and perceptual confidence. We controlled for lower-level visual processing capacity by titrating luminance contrasts of backward masks, and the emotional intensity of fearful, angry and happy faces. Under these conditions, participants showed liberal biases in perceiving a fearful face, in both detection and discrimination tasks. This effect was stronger among individuals with reduced density in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region linked to perceptual decision-making. Moreover, participants reported higher confidence when they accurately perceived a fearful face, suggesting that fearful faces may have privileged access to consciousness. Together, the results suggest that mechanisms in the prefrontal cortex contribute to making fearful face perception special.

KEYWORDS:

dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLFPC); fearful face perception; metacognition; perceptual decision-making; voxel-based morphometry (VBM)

PMID:
27405614
PMCID:
PMC5091676
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nsw084
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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