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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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Related in: MedlinePlus

Conjunction of simple valence effects (A) is depicted and interaction effect of valence and modality is depicted only for (pos verbal>neut verbal)>(pos picorial>neut pictorial) (B), as there were no significant activations for (pos pictorial>neut pictorial)>(verb pos>neut verbal).Both are depicted at p<0.001. Abbreviations: ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; cc = corpus callosum; ITG = inferior frontal gyrus; Ins = insula; LgG = lingual gyrus; PrG = precentral gyrus (R = right; L = left); STG = superior temporal gyrus.
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pone-0055619-g004: Conjunction of simple valence effects (A) is depicted and interaction effect of valence and modality is depicted only for (pos verbal>neut verbal)>(pos picorial>neut pictorial) (B), as there were no significant activations for (pos pictorial>neut pictorial)>(verb pos>neut verbal).Both are depicted at p<0.001. Abbreviations: ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; cc = corpus callosum; ITG = inferior frontal gyrus; Ins = insula; LgG = lingual gyrus; PrG = precentral gyrus (R = right; L = left); STG = superior temporal gyrus.

Mentions: To identify common valence effects for the modalities a conjunction of the simple pictorial and verbal valence effects was analyzed, which revealed significant common activations in the right lingual gyrus and the anterior cingulate cortex (Table 2, Figure 4A). To compare valence effects between modalities, the interaction of valence and modality (verbal, pictorial) was examined, revealing increased activations for verbal material (Table 2, Figure 4B) in the right insula (BA 13) and the left midcingulate cortex (BA 31), as well as in a network of language processing regions including the right superior temporal gyrus, the right inferior temporal gyrus and the bilateral precentral gyrus (BA 3). No increased activations were found for the pictorial as compared to the verbal valence effects.


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)

Conjunction of simple valence effects (A) is depicted and interaction effect of valence and modality is depicted only for (pos verbal>neut verbal)>(pos picorial>neut pictorial) (B), as there were no significant activations for (pos pictorial>neut pictorial)>(verb pos>neut verbal).Both are depicted at p<0.001. Abbreviations: ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; cc = corpus callosum; ITG = inferior frontal gyrus; Ins = insula; LgG = lingual gyrus; PrG = precentral gyrus (R = right; L = left); STG = superior temporal gyrus.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3569458&req=5

pone-0055619-g004: Conjunction of simple valence effects (A) is depicted and interaction effect of valence and modality is depicted only for (pos verbal>neut verbal)>(pos picorial>neut pictorial) (B), as there were no significant activations for (pos pictorial>neut pictorial)>(verb pos>neut verbal).Both are depicted at p<0.001. Abbreviations: ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; cc = corpus callosum; ITG = inferior frontal gyrus; Ins = insula; LgG = lingual gyrus; PrG = precentral gyrus (R = right; L = left); STG = superior temporal gyrus.
Mentions: To identify common valence effects for the modalities a conjunction of the simple pictorial and verbal valence effects was analyzed, which revealed significant common activations in the right lingual gyrus and the anterior cingulate cortex (Table 2, Figure 4A). To compare valence effects between modalities, the interaction of valence and modality (verbal, pictorial) was examined, revealing increased activations for verbal material (Table 2, Figure 4B) in the right insula (BA 13) and the left midcingulate cortex (BA 31), as well as in a network of language processing regions including the right superior temporal gyrus, the right inferior temporal gyrus and the bilateral precentral gyrus (BA 3). No increased activations were found for the pictorial as compared to the verbal valence effects.

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