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Emotional picture and word processing: an FMRI study on effects of stimulus complexity.

Schlochtermeier LH, Kuchinke L, Pehrs C, Urton K, Kappelhoff H, Jacobs AM - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: The comparison of verbal and pictorial emotional stimuli often reveals a processing advantage of emotional pictures in terms of larger or more pronounced emotion effects evoked by pictorial stimuli.In this study, we examined whether this picture advantage refers to general processing differences or whether it might partly be attributed to differences in visual complexity between pictures and words.Using fMRI we then studied the neural correlates of the processing of these emotional stimuli in a valence judgment task, in which the stimulus material was controlled for differences in emotional arousal.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cluster of Excellence Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany. l.schlochtermeier@fu-berlin.de

ABSTRACT
Neuroscientific investigations regarding aspects of emotional experiences usually focus on one stimulus modality (e.g., pictorial or verbal). Similarities and differences in the processing between the different modalities have rarely been studied directly. The comparison of verbal and pictorial emotional stimuli often reveals a processing advantage of emotional pictures in terms of larger or more pronounced emotion effects evoked by pictorial stimuli. In this study, we examined whether this picture advantage refers to general processing differences or whether it might partly be attributed to differences in visual complexity between pictures and words. We first developed a new stimulus database comprising valence and arousal ratings for more than 200 concrete objects representable in different modalities including different levels of complexity: words, phrases, pictograms, and photographs. Using fMRI we then studied the neural correlates of the processing of these emotional stimuli in a valence judgment task, in which the stimulus material was controlled for differences in emotional arousal. No superiority for the pictorial stimuli was found in terms of emotional information processing with differences between modalities being revealed mainly in perceptual processing regions. While visual complexity might partly account for previously found differences in emotional stimulus processing, the main existing processing differences are probably due to enhanced processing in modality specific perceptual regions. We would suggest that both pictures and words elicit emotional responses with no general superiority for either stimulus modality, while emotional responses to pictures are modulated by perceptual stimulus features, such as picture complexity.

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Parametric main effects of subjective valence ratings.Activations for (A) all stimuli and (B) simple effects for pictorial and verbal material are presented at p<0.001. Abbreviations: Amg = amygdala; ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; Cd = caudate nucleus; Cun = cuneus; Hi = hippocampus; LgG = lingual gyrus; MCC = mid cingulate cortex; MFG = medial frontal gyrus; PHG = parahippocampal gyrus; PCC = posterior cingulate cortex; Th = thalamus.
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pone-0055619-g003: Parametric main effects of subjective valence ratings.Activations for (A) all stimuli and (B) simple effects for pictorial and verbal material are presented at p<0.001. Abbreviations: Amg = amygdala; ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; Cd = caudate nucleus; Cun = cuneus; Hi = hippocampus; LgG = lingual gyrus; MCC = mid cingulate cortex; MFG = medial frontal gyrus; PHG = parahippocampal gyrus; PCC = posterior cingulate cortex; Th = thalamus.

Mentions: As depicted in Table 1 and Figure 2 the main overall effect of positive valence revealed activations in an emotion processing network including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24), the left frontal pole (Brodmann Area, BA 10), as well as the left parahippocampal gyrus extending to the amygdala, and in visual processing regions, namely the right lingual gyrus and the left cuneus (BA 18). To differentiate between modalities, the simple valence effects were analyzed separately for pictorial and verbal materials revealing, for the pictorial materials (photos and pictograms), significant activations for positive valence in the right lingual gyrus (BA 17), as well as in the right anterior cingulate (BA 32) and left frontal pole (BA 10). For the verbal material (phrases and words) widespread activations were observed in frontal emotion processing regions including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24), the left frontal pole (BA 10), the left insula (BA 13), and the left caudate tail, as well as in language processing regions: the left precentral gyrus (BA 4), the thalamus, and the left temporal pole (BA 38). In the parametric analysis, effects for individual valence ratings as a linear function of increasing valence were found for the overall effect in a similar but more widespread network including the lingual gyrus, the bilateral frontal cortex (BA 11, 10, 8), the left anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24, BA 25), the left caudate body and the left parahippocampal gyrus, extending to the amygdala. In the simple effects besides activations in the left medial frontal gyrus and the right anterior cingulate, additional activations for the pictorial material were found in the left caudate body and the subgenual part of the anterior cingulate as depicted in Figure 3. For the verbal material the network was more extensive including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 32), the left middle frontal gyrus (BA 8), the left caudate body, the right insula (BA 13), the right precentral gyrus (BA 4), and the thalamus with additional activations in the left transverse temporal gyrus, the left hippocampus extending to the amygdala, in the left cerebellar declive, the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA 47), and the left superior parietal lobe (BA 7) (see Table 1, Figure 3).


Emotional picture and word processing: an FMRI study on effects of stimulus complexity.

Schlochtermeier LH, Kuchinke L, Pehrs C, Urton K, Kappelhoff H, Jacobs AM - PLoS ONE (2013)

Parametric main effects of subjective valence ratings.Activations for (A) all stimuli and (B) simple effects for pictorial and verbal material are presented at p<0.001. Abbreviations: Amg = amygdala; ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; Cd = caudate nucleus; Cun = cuneus; Hi = hippocampus; LgG = lingual gyrus; MCC = mid cingulate cortex; MFG = medial frontal gyrus; PHG = parahippocampal gyrus; PCC = posterior cingulate cortex; Th = thalamus.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3569458&req=5

pone-0055619-g003: Parametric main effects of subjective valence ratings.Activations for (A) all stimuli and (B) simple effects for pictorial and verbal material are presented at p<0.001. Abbreviations: Amg = amygdala; ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; Cd = caudate nucleus; Cun = cuneus; Hi = hippocampus; LgG = lingual gyrus; MCC = mid cingulate cortex; MFG = medial frontal gyrus; PHG = parahippocampal gyrus; PCC = posterior cingulate cortex; Th = thalamus.
Mentions: As depicted in Table 1 and Figure 2 the main overall effect of positive valence revealed activations in an emotion processing network including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24), the left frontal pole (Brodmann Area, BA 10), as well as the left parahippocampal gyrus extending to the amygdala, and in visual processing regions, namely the right lingual gyrus and the left cuneus (BA 18). To differentiate between modalities, the simple valence effects were analyzed separately for pictorial and verbal materials revealing, for the pictorial materials (photos and pictograms), significant activations for positive valence in the right lingual gyrus (BA 17), as well as in the right anterior cingulate (BA 32) and left frontal pole (BA 10). For the verbal material (phrases and words) widespread activations were observed in frontal emotion processing regions including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24), the left frontal pole (BA 10), the left insula (BA 13), and the left caudate tail, as well as in language processing regions: the left precentral gyrus (BA 4), the thalamus, and the left temporal pole (BA 38). In the parametric analysis, effects for individual valence ratings as a linear function of increasing valence were found for the overall effect in a similar but more widespread network including the lingual gyrus, the bilateral frontal cortex (BA 11, 10, 8), the left anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24, BA 25), the left caudate body and the left parahippocampal gyrus, extending to the amygdala. In the simple effects besides activations in the left medial frontal gyrus and the right anterior cingulate, additional activations for the pictorial material were found in the left caudate body and the subgenual part of the anterior cingulate as depicted in Figure 3. For the verbal material the network was more extensive including the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 32), the left middle frontal gyrus (BA 8), the left caudate body, the right insula (BA 13), the right precentral gyrus (BA 4), and the thalamus with additional activations in the left transverse temporal gyrus, the left hippocampus extending to the amygdala, in the left cerebellar declive, the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA 47), and the left superior parietal lobe (BA 7) (see Table 1, Figure 3).

Bottom Line: The comparison of verbal and pictorial emotional stimuli often reveals a processing advantage of emotional pictures in terms of larger or more pronounced emotion effects evoked by pictorial stimuli.In this study, we examined whether this picture advantage refers to general processing differences or whether it might partly be attributed to differences in visual complexity between pictures and words.Using fMRI we then studied the neural correlates of the processing of these emotional stimuli in a valence judgment task, in which the stimulus material was controlled for differences in emotional arousal.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cluster of Excellence Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany. l.schlochtermeier@fu-berlin.de

ABSTRACT
Neuroscientific investigations regarding aspects of emotional experiences usually focus on one stimulus modality (e.g., pictorial or verbal). Similarities and differences in the processing between the different modalities have rarely been studied directly. The comparison of verbal and pictorial emotional stimuli often reveals a processing advantage of emotional pictures in terms of larger or more pronounced emotion effects evoked by pictorial stimuli. In this study, we examined whether this picture advantage refers to general processing differences or whether it might partly be attributed to differences in visual complexity between pictures and words. We first developed a new stimulus database comprising valence and arousal ratings for more than 200 concrete objects representable in different modalities including different levels of complexity: words, phrases, pictograms, and photographs. Using fMRI we then studied the neural correlates of the processing of these emotional stimuli in a valence judgment task, in which the stimulus material was controlled for differences in emotional arousal. No superiority for the pictorial stimuli was found in terms of emotional information processing with differences between modalities being revealed mainly in perceptual processing regions. While visual complexity might partly account for previously found differences in emotional stimulus processing, the main existing processing differences are probably due to enhanced processing in modality specific perceptual regions. We would suggest that both pictures and words elicit emotional responses with no general superiority for either stimulus modality, while emotional responses to pictures are modulated by perceptual stimulus features, such as picture complexity.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus