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Neural correlates of enhanced visual short-term memory for angry faces: an fmri study

Jackson, Margaret C., Wolf, Claudia, Johnston, Stephen J., Raymond, Jane E. and Linden, David Edmund Johannes 2008. Neural correlates of enhanced visual short-term memory for angry faces: an fmri study. PLoS ONE 3 (10) , e3536. 10.1371/journal.pone.0003536

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Background Fluid and effective social communication requires that both face identity and emotional expression information are encoded and maintained in visual short-term memory (VSTM) to enable a coherent, ongoing picture of the world and its players. This appears to be of particular evolutionary importance when confronted with potentially threatening displays of emotion - previous research has shown better VSTM for angry versus happy or neutral face identities. Methodology/Principal Findings Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, here we investigated the neural correlates of this angry face benefit in VSTM. Participants were shown between one and four to-be-remembered angry, happy, or neutral faces, and after a short retention delay they stated whether a single probe face had been present or not in the previous display. All faces in any one display expressed the same emotion, and the task required memory for face identity. We find enhanced VSTM for angry face identities and describe the right hemisphere brain network underpinning this effect, which involves the globus pallidus, superior temporal sulcus, and frontal lobe. Increased activity in the globus pallidus was significantly correlated with the angry benefit in VSTM. Areas modulated by emotion were distinct from those modulated by memory load. Conclusions/Significance Our results provide evidence for a key role of the basal ganglia as an interface between emotion and cognition, supported by a frontal, temporal, and occipital network.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:54

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