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Questioning the role of amygdala and insula in an attentional capture by emotional stimuli task.


ABSTRACT: Our senses are constantly monitoring the environment for emotionally salient stimuli that are potentially relevant for survival. Because of our limited cognitive resources, emotionally salient distractors prolong reaction times (RTs) as compared to neutral distractors. In addition, many studies have reported fMRI blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activation of both the amygdala and the anterior insula for similar valence contrasts. However, a direct correlation of trail-by-trial BOLD activity with RTs has not been shown, yet, which would be a crucial piece of evidence to relate the two observations. To investigate the role of the above two regions in the context of emotional distractor effects, we study here the correlation between BOLD activity and RTs for a simple attentional capture by emotional stimuli (ACES) choice reaction time task using a general linear subject-level model with a parametric RT regressor. We found significant regression coefficients in the anterior insula, supplementary motor cortex, medial precentral regions, sensory-motor areas and others, but not in the amygdala, despite activation of both insula and amygdala in the traditional valence contrast across trials (i.e., negative vs. neutral pictures). In addition, we found that subjects that exhibit a stronger RT distractor effect across trials also show a stronger BOLD valence contrast in the right anterior insula but not in the amygdala. Our results indicate that the current neuroimaging-based evidence for the involvement of the amygdala in RT slowing is limited. We advocate that models of emotional capture should incorporate both the amygdala and the anterior insula as separate entities.

SUBMITTER: Marxen M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7927307 | BioStudies | 2021-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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