Human Brain: Text is more important than emotions

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High Resolution FMRI of the Human Brain

FMRI of the Human Brain

Human Brain: Text is more important than emotions

Scientists from Canada, conducted a study showing that the human brain places more emphasis on the written word, than the perceived emotional information. Using MRI, they evaluated the brain activity of study participants while performing tasks on stereotyped behavior. The study conducted a team led by Joseph DeSouza from York University (York University) in Toronto. Report on their work published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

In order to obtain this information, study participants showed photographs of faces that reflect the emotional state. The images were accompanied by the words: “joyful,” “sad,” “indifferent”. In some pictures did not match the signature image. This experiment is a modification of the classic Stroop test, in which subjects were offered words for colors, printed, respectively, in the same or a different color.

The results were obtained for 18 subjects (9 males and 9 females) aged 21-40 years. Subjects were asked to press the button, indicating the appropriate emotions, focusing on the photo captions, and not the images. The researchers measured the activity of various divisions of the cerebral cortex of participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Increased activity was found in the cortex of the frontal lobes, which is responsible for long-term planning, control of arbitrary reactions and resolution of dissonance in the perception of information.

According to the study, during the execution of tasks in which the signature does not match the image, the subjects increased activity of the cortex of the frontal lobes, in particular the anterior cingulate, and upper and lower frontal gyrus, where, as shown by other research centers are responsible for long-term planning, choice and control of arbitrary reactions.

This proves that the discrepancy between the text and pictures the subjects had to give up a first impression, performing a task, and therefore, the human brain reads the written word faster than recognize the emotion depicted

Desouza said that scientists first managed to link the work of certain areas of the cerebral cortex to the suppression of behavioral automatisms. According to him, the study results will help identify the causes of violations of stereotyped responses in stroke patients, and patients with schizophrenia.

Public release date: 22-Dec-2010 York U study pinpoints part of brain that suppresses instinct

TORONTO, December 22, 2010 − Research from York University is revealing which regions in the brain “fire up” when we suppress an automatic behaviour such as the urge to look at other people as we enter an elevator.

A York study, published recently in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to track brain activity when study participants looked at an image of a facial expression with a word superimposed on it. Study participants processed the words faster than the facial expressions. However, when the word did not match the image – for example, when the word “sad” was superimposed on an image of someone smiling − participants reacted less quickly to a request to read the word.

“The emotion in the word doesn’t match the emotion in the facial expression, which creates a conflict,” said Joseph DeSouza, assistant professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health. “Our study showed − for the first time − an increase in signal from the left inferior frontal cortex when the study participant was confronted by this conflict between the word and the image and asked to respond to directions that went against their automatic instincts.”

Previous research on the prefrontal cortex has found this region to be implicated in higher order cognitive functions including longterm planning, response suppression and response selection. This experiment, conducted by graduate student Shima Ovaysikia under DeSouza’s supervision, allowed researchers to study inhibitory mechanisms for much more complex stimuli than have been studied in the past.

The inferior frontal cortex is located near the front left temple. People who have problems with inhibition, including stroke or schizophrenia patients, may have damage to this inferior frontal cortex zone, says DeSouza. As a result, when they see something that is inconsistent – such as the image of a smiling face with the word “sad” across it – they would be expected to take more time to react, because the part of their brains needed to process it has been damaged or destroyed.

The research, conducted by York’s Centre for Vision Research with the use of fMRI technology at Queen’s University, was partially funded by the Faculty of Health at York University, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Research at York (RAY) program. Future fMRI research at York will be conducted in a state-of-the-art neuroimaging laboratory at York’s new Sherman Health Science Research Centre, which opened in September.

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.

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