Poster E14, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Context-dependent neural responses in insula and amygdala when viewing affective animal videos
Christine A. Godwin1, Sunya A. Fareed1, J.C. Mizelle2, Eric H. Schumacher1; 1Georgia Institute of Technology, 2East Carolina University
Animals have the ability to elicit a complicated and diverse set of affective responses. In particular, insects have been associated primarily with feelings of disgust. This has frequently been interpreted in the context of disease avoidance. However, the extent to which individuals experience feelings of disgust and other emotions in response to insects may vary greatly depending on the environment in which these animals are encountered: Insects in home environments may elicit stronger disgust responses compared to insects in nature, in line with the idea of disease avoidance. To test this, we collected fMRI scans while participants (n=20) viewed 15-s videoclips of animals in dynamic, complex environments. The three primary categories of videos consisted of insects in nature, insects in the home, and fear-inducing animals in nature (e.g., sharks). Participants also rated each video for fear, disgust, and pleasantness. We selected the insula and amygdala as a priori regions of interest due to their respective roles in supporting disgust and fear responses. When comparing videos of insects in the home to insects in nature, we observed increased insula activation and increased self-reports of disgust. In addition, insects in general elicited greater insula activation compared to fear-inducing animal videos, whereas fear-inducing animal videos elicited greater activation in the amygdala compared to both insect video categories. These data emphasize the importance that context has on emotional processing, including affective responses to insects. Furthermore, these results provide further support that at least partially-segregated brain networks support the emotions disgust and fear.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding