Differential Modulation of Effective Connectivity in the Brain's Extended Face Processing System by Fearful and Sad Facial Expressions
AuthorJamieson, AJ; Davey, CG; Harrison, BJ
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsJamieson, A. J., Davey, C. G. & Harrison, B. J. (2021). Differential Modulation of Effective Connectivity in the Brain's Extended Face Processing System by Fearful and Sad Facial Expressions. ENEURO, 8 (2), https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0380-20.2021.
Access StatusOpen Access
The processing of emotional facial expressions is underpinned by the integration of information from a distributed network of brain regions. Despite investigations into how different emotional expressions alter the functional relationships within this network, there remains limited research examining which regions drive these interactions. This study investigated effective connectivity during the processing of sad and fearful facial expressions to better understand how these stimuli differentially modulate emotional face processing circuitry. Ninety-eight healthy human adolescents and young adults, aged between 15 and 25 years, underwent an implicit emotional face processing fMRI task. Using dynamic causal modeling (DCM), we examined five brain regions implicated in face processing. These were restricted to the right hemisphere and included the occipital and fusiform face areas, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Processing sad and fearful facial expressions were associated with greater positive connectivity from the amygdala to dlPFC. Only the processing of fearful facial expressions was associated with greater negative connectivity from the vmPFC to amygdala. Compared with processing sad faces, processing fearful faces was associated with significantly greater connectivity from the amygdala to dlPFC. No difference was found between the processing of these expressions and the connectivity from the vmPFC to amygdala. Overall, our findings indicate that connectivity from the amygdala and dlPFC appears to be responding to dimensional features which differ between these expressions, likely those relating to arousal. Further research is necessary to examine whether this relationship is also observable for positively valenced emotions.
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