What makes an angry face look so… angry? Examining the shape of threat in children and adults

Abstract Threatening facial expressions like anger can signal potential danger. Past research has established that both adults and children have an attentional bias for angry faces, visually detecting their presence more quickly than happy or neutral faces. More recent research has suggested that specific features of angry faces (such as the downward-pointing ‘‘V’’ shaped brow) […]

MAOA T941G polymorphism and the time course of emotional recovery following unpleasant pictures

Abstract Difficulty down-regulating negative affect has been linked with anxiety and depression. In addition, recent studies have identified specific polymorphisms of the MAOA gene related to affective psychopathology. Here we examined whether genetic variation in MAOA was associated with the time course of responses to affective stimuli. Emotion-modulation of the startle blink response was measured […]

Visual threat detection during moderate and high intensity exercise

Abstract The aim of the study was to assess performance on a visual threat-detection task during concurrently performed vigorous exercise on a cycle ergometer. Thirty (15 female) participants completed a baseline condition of seated rest and then moderate- and high-intensity exercise. Moderate- and high-intensity exercise conditions were completed on the 2nd day in a counterbalanced […]

Functions of parahippocampal place area and retrosplenial cortex in real-world scene analysis: an fMRI study

Abstract We used functional MRI to investigate several hypotheses concerning the functions of posterior parahippocampal cortex and retrosplenial cortex, two regions that preferentially activate to images of real-world scenes compared to images of other meaningful visual stimuli such as objects and faces. We compared activation resulting from photographs of rooms, city streets, cityscapes, and landscapes […]

Simple geometric shapes are implicitly associated with affective value

Simple geometric shapes are implicitly associated with affective value

Abstract Growing evidence suggests that the underlying geometry of a visual image is an effective mechanism for conveying the affective meaning of a scene or object. Indeed, even very simple context-free geometric shapes have been shown to signal emotion. Specifically, downward-pointing V’s are perceived as threatening and curvilinear forms are perceived as pleasant. As these […]

Failure to filter: anxious individuals show inefficient gating of threat from working memory

Failure to filter: anxious individuals show inefficient gating of threat from working memory

Abstract Dispositional anxiety is a well-established risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorders along the internalizing spectrum, including anxiety and depression. Importantly, many of the maladaptive behaviors characteristic of anxiety, such as anticipatory apprehension, occur when threat is absent. This raises the possibility that anxious individuals are less efficient at gating threat’s access to […]

Characterizing the anomalous cognition–emotion interactions in externalizing

Abstract Externalizing traits are characterized by exaggerated emotional (e.g., frustration, anger) and behavioral (e.g., drug seeking, reactive aggression) reactions to motivationally significant stimuli. Explanations for this exaggerated reactivity emphasize attention, executive function, and affective processes, but the associations among these processes are rarely investigated. To examine these interactions, we measure fear potentiated startle (FPS; Experiment […]