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Poster A61

Human brain activity at event boundaries and emotion changes in naturalistic videos

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Ruiyi Chen1 (, Karen Sasmita, Khena Swallow; 1Cornell University

Continuous experience may be divided into discrete events (event segmentation) when changes in the ongoing situation cause predictions about what will happen next to break down. Though the moments that separate one event from the next (event boundaries) have long been tied to a variety of situation changes (e.g., changes in spatial location, actor goals, and object interactions), changes in a core feature of experience, emotion, has been generally overlooked. In a prior study, we showed that participants identified emotion changes in movie content and event boundaries at similar times. However, it is unclear whether discrete changes in the emotional content of a movie are spontaneously processed in the brain, and whether brain regions that are sensitive to event boundaries are also sensitive to emotion changes. We analyzed a publicly available fMRI dataset collected while participants freely viewed an episode of Sherlock (Chen et al., 2017) and collected data to identify normative event boundaries and emotion changes in the episode. Replicating previous results, participants agreed with each other about when emotion changes occurred, and these changes correlated with event boundaries. Importantly, a network of brain regions that increased in activity around event boundaries was also sensitive to changes in the movie’s emotional content. Conversely, the amygdala, a region associated with processing emotional salience and threat, transiently increased in activity around event boundaries. Together, the findings provide initial evidence suggesting that emotional information may be tracked by event processing regions to mediate segmentation.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024