Poster Session F, Tuesday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
The Utility of the Dynamic Facial Expression Task in Real-Time fMRI Neurofeedback Training of Amygdala Signal
Tim Varkevisser1,2,3, Jack van Honk3,4, Elbert Geuze1,2; 1University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2Expertise Center Military Mental Health Care, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 3Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 4University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Research indicates that the amygdala of individuals with impulsive aggression problems may be overly responsive to the presentation of negative emotional (e.g., angry or fearful) facial stimuli. Here, we present preliminary results for the use of the dynamic facial expression task (DFET) in a real-time fMRI neurofeedback paradigm that aims to teach combat veterans with impulsive aggression problems to self-regulate their amygdala signal. Blocks of facial stimuli that (rapidly) change from a neutral expression to an angry or fearful one were presented to a sample of non-aggressive healthy volunteers (N = 10). A number of variations in task design and stimulus presentation were tested in order to elicit a maximum amygdala response, and to be used in the follow-up neurofeedback experiment. Preliminary results indicate that within-subject t-values in the range of 3-5 can be reached with the DFET, i.e., when blocks of (emotional) facial expression are compared to blocks of rest. Little to no contrast in amygdala signal was observed when the dynamic expression (angry or fearful) blocks were compared to blocks of the static neutral expression. These findings suggest that facial stimuli that rapidly change from a neutral expression to an angry or fearful one may elicit no amygdala response over and beyond that of static neutral facial stimuli, i.e., when measured at a within-subject level. Experiments are ongoing to determine if the DFET may still be suitable for use in real-time fMRI neurofeedback training of amygdala signal, e.g., in combat veterans with impulsive aggression problems.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception