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Background: Human emotional expressions serve an important communicatory role allowing the rapid transmission of valence information among individuals. We aimed at exploring the neural networks mediating the recognition of and empathy with human facial expressions of emotion. Methods: A principal component analysis was applied to event-related functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) data of 14 right-handed healthy volunteers (29 +/- 6 years). During scanning, subjects viewed happy, sad and neutral face expressions in the following conditions: emotion recognition, empathizing with emotion, and a control condition of simple object detection. Functionally relevant principal components (PCs) were identified by planned comparisons at an alpha level of p < 0.001. Results: Four PCs revealed significant differences in variance patterns of the conditions, thereby revealing distinct neural networks: mediating facial identification (PC 1), identification of an expressed emotion (PC 2), attention to an expressed emotion (PC 12), and sense of an emotional state (PC 27). Conclusion: Our findings further the notion that the appraisal of human facial expressions involves multiple neural circuits that process highly differentiated cognitive aspects of emotion. Introduction on correctly recognizing and reacting to rapid fluctuations Human emotional facial expressions contain information in the emotional states of others [4,5]. This capability may which is essential for social interaction and communica- have played a key role in our ability to survive and evolve tion [1-3]. Social interaction and communication depend . Page 1 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 In the research field of psychological childhood develop- Each psychological state may be associated with distinct ment the competence to detect, share, and utilise cogni- neural networks containing cortical areas which interact tive patterns and emotional states of the other was within and across neutral networks. The interactions fos- conceptualized as mentalizing . The important aspect is ter an exponentially complex environment within which that the emotion expressed in someone else's face is not the processes driving emphatic responses occur. While the only detected but also valuated from the subjective per- processes have been explored to some extent, much work spective of the observer. In fact, the appraisal of and the is needed to reveal the precise nature of the complex inter- resonance with an emotion observed in somebody else is action among the constituents of empathy. central to the concept of empathy [8-11]. Accordingly, empathy has been suggested to involve dis- We can acquire two important sources of information tinct, distributed neural networks. Such distributed net- upon perceiving a face: the identification and emotional works demand the application of a network analysis, expression of the individual [12-15]. Support for distinct which subjects voxels of the image matrix to a multivariate networks of facial identification and emotional recogni- rather than a univariate analysis. This feature allows a net- tion have been provided by studies of those with trau- work analysis to overcome two significant limitations of matic brain injuries , electroencephalograph (EEG) univariate analyses that are based on categorical compari- studies [17,18], magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies sons: they are unable to distinguish regional networks , and also by studies examining the influence of emo- because the constituent voxels may not all change at the tional expression on familiar faces . EEG studies have defined level of significance and may also show areas of also hypothesized that these two networks operate in a activation which are unrelated to the phenomenon being parallel system of recognition in which emotional effects studied . and structural facial features are simultaneously identified through distinct neural networks [8,9]. The network analysis applied to the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals in this functional magnetic When inferring the emotional expression of another, we resonance imaging (fMRI) study is a principal component are automatically compelled to compare our assessment analysis (PCA), which decomposes the image matrix into of their emotional state with our own. A key component statistically uncorrelated components. Each component of perspective taking and emphatic experiences is the abil- represents a distinct neural network, and the extreme ity to compare the emotional state of oneself with another voxel values of a component image, its nodes. Thus, the [8-11,21]. However, a distinct separation between first component images map the functional connectivity of and third-person experiences is necessary [8,22]. People constituent regions activated during neural stimulation. are normally able to correctly attribute emotional states Previous studies have proposed and verified the hypothe- and actions to the proper individual, whether they are our sis of functional connectivity in regions-of-interest  own or someone else's . Confusing our emotional and voxel-based analyses [29-31]. In contrast to regions state with another would vitiate the function of empathy that show enhanced metabolic or blood flow levels corre- and cause unnecessary emotional distress and anxiety lated with mental states , the networks deduced by . PCA incorporate no a priori assumptions regarding the neural stimulation. Therefore, a number of distinct psychological states func- tioning in concert may be necessary in order for a proper Virtually unexplored until now, the neural networks asso- emphatic experience to occur . They may include the ciated with recognizing and empathizing with human evaluation of emotion of the self, evaluation of another's facial expressions of emotions are here described using emotion, comparing those emotions, and anticipating PCA. and reacting to our own or another's emotion, among others. In accord with this line of thought, Decety and We attempt to elucidate the functional neural networks Jackson  have proposed three major functional com- central to the processes of recognizing and empathizing ponents of emphatic experiences. First, the actions of with emotional facial stimuli recorded in fMRI acquisi- another person automatically enact a psychological state tions of healthy subjects. in oneself which mirror those actions and create a repre- sentative state which incorporates the perceptions of both Statistical testing identified four principal components the self and another. Secondly, there must be a distinct (PC) as relevant neural networks. The correlation of the separation between the perception of the self and the subjects' scores of emotional experience with the PC's fur- other person. Finally, the ability to cognitively assume the ther supported their functional relevance. Our analysis perception of another person while being aware of self/ shows the coordinated action of brain areas involved in other separation is important. the processing of visual perception and emotional Page 2 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 appraisal underlying the facial expressions of human Visual stimuli emotions. These regions, including pre-frontal control From photographs of facial affect , we selected for areas and occipital visual processing areas presumably presentation those with happy, sad and neutral facial constitute nodes of the networks implicated in appraising expressions found to be correctly identified in more than other people's emotion in their facial expressions. 90 percent of raters; 14 happy, 14 sad, and 14 neutral faces were used. Only faces which had been found to be cor- Methods rectly identified in more than 90 percent of raters  Subjects were used to ensure that the subjects internally generated Fourteen healthy, right-handed subjects (28.6 +/- 5.5 the corresponding emotion. This corresponded to a simi- years; 7 men, 7 women) participated in this study. The lar approach of a recent study . As control stimuli we subjects had normal or corrected to normal vision. Right- produced a number of scrambled images from these pho- handedness was assessed using the Oldfield's question- tographs equal to the number of intact faces. All images naire . In addition, the subjects' emotional compe- were digitized and controlled for luminescence. tence was tested with the German, 20-item version of the Experimental task design Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) [33-35]. None of the participating subjects were classified as alexithymic (mean Faces were presented for durations ranging between 300 TAS-20 sum score 34.14 +/- 6.26, range 23). Subjects were and 500 ms, since this short presentation time is sufficient also evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory  for conscious visual perception avoiding habituation . and the scales of emotional experience (SEE) . The presentation time of the faces was jittered to enhance the detection of the stimulation-related BOLD activity changes in this event-related fMRI study. Thereafter, Sc Figure 1 hematic illustration of the experimental design Schematic illustration of the experimental design. Page 3 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 scrambled faces were presented for durations between 11 subject was co-registered to the mean image of the func- and 12 s (Figure 1). This long second stimulation period tional images and also normalized to the MNI-space. was chosen to provide the subjects sufficient time to engage in appraising the emotional facial expression seen For each of the three instruction sets, the happy, sad and in the first stimulation interval and to allow changs of skin neutral face presentations were modelled as well as the conductance to occur . The faces were presented in corresponding scrambled faces. The models employed the random order on a laptop connected to a projector (LCD haemodynamic response function provided by SPM2. data projector, VPL-S500E, Sony, Toyko, Japan) on a Data were temporally filtered using a Gaussian low-pass screen which was placed approximately 50 cm from the filter of 4 s and a high-pass filter of 100 s. All data were mirror in the head coil. Immediately before each fMRI scaled to the grand mean. Realignment parameters as scan the subjects were instructed to view the faces in a determined in the realignment step were used as con- mind set according to one of the following cognitive founding covariates. The duration of all events was mod- instructions: a) identify the emotion expressed in the faces elled with 4 s for face presentations and 8 s for the delay (RECOGNIZE), b) empathize with the emotion expressed period. The repeated condition images of the 18 experi- in the faces (SHARE EMOTION), c) count the earrings in mental conditions were averaged for each of the 14 sub- the faces shown (control condition: DETECT EARRINGS). jects, yielding a total of 252 averaged condition images. Each instruction was given twice in random order across Data were modelled using the canonical haemodynamic the subjects, yielding six separate scans per subject. Thus, response function provided by SPM2. The duration of all the visual stimuli were identical in the different experi- events was modelled explicitly with 4 s for face presenta- mental conditions, but the visual information to be proc- tions and 8 s for the delay period. To identify the brain essed differed according to the instructions. Since each areas related to viewing the faces a comparison with view- condition was repeated twice, 28 happy, 28 sad and 28 ing the scrambled faces was calculated. Only areas with a neutral faces were presented. The presentation was done p < 0.05 corrected at cluster level with a cluster threshold in random order across the subjects to counteract possible > 20 voxels were accepted (Table 1). sequence or habituation effects. After each condition, the subjects were debriefed about how well they could per- The PCA employed in house software of which some form the task. modules were adapted from SPM2. Extracerebral voxels were excluded from the analysis using a mask derived Functional magnetic resonance imaging from the gray matter component yielded by segmentation The subjects lay supine in the MRI scanner and viewed the of the high resolution anatomical 3D image volume into faces on a screen via a mirror which was fixed to the head gray matter, white matter and cerebrospinal fluid using coil. Image presentation was controlled by a TTL-stimulus the segmentation module of SPM2. Voxel values of the coming from the MRI-scanner as described in detail else- segmented image ranged between 0 and 1; the mask where . Scanning was performed on a Siemens Vision included only those exceeding 0.35, excluding most of 1.5 T scanner (Erlangen, Germany) using an EPI-GE white matter. Calculation of the residual matrix is the first sequence: TR = 5 s, TE = 66 ms, flip angle = 90°. The whole step. From a matrix whose rows corresponded to the 252 brain was covered by 30 transaxial slices oriented parallel conditons and columns to the 180 thousands voxels in a to the bi-commissural plane with in-plane resolution of single image volume the mean voxel value of each row 3.125 × 3.125 mm, slice thickness of 4 mm, and interslice was subtracted from each element as was the mean voxel gap of 0.4 mm. Each acquisition consisted of 255 vol- value of each column subtracted from each element. umes. The first 3 volumes of each session did not enter the Thereafter, the grand mean of all voxel values in the orig- analysis. A high-resolution 3D T1-weighted image (TR = inal matrix was added to each element. The result of this 40 ms, TE = 5 ms, flip angle = 40°) consisting of 180 sag- normalization procedure is the residual matrix for which ittal slices with in plane resolution of 1.0 × 1.0 mm was the row, column and grand means vanish. Using the sin- also acquired for each subject. gular value decomposition implemented in Matlab, the residual matrix was then decomposed into 252 compo- Data analysis nents, consisting of an image, an expression coefficient, Image data were analysed with SPM2 (Wellcome Depart- and an eigenvalue for each component. The eigenvalue ment of Cognitive Neurology, London, UK; http:// was proportional to the square root of the fraction of var- www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/spm). Images were slice-time cor- iance described by each component, while the expression rected, realigned, normalized to the template created in coefficients described the amount that each subject and the Montreal Neurology Institute (MNI), and spatially condition contributed to the component. The principal smoothed with a 10 × 10 × 10 mm Gaussian filter. The components (PCs) were ranked according to the propor- normalization step resampled the images to a voxel size of tion of variance that each component explains, i.e, PC 1 2 × 2 × 2 mm. The anatomical T1-weighted image of each explains the greatest amount of variance. The expression Page 4 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 Table 1: Cerebral activations related to viewing emotional face expressions as compared with viewing scrambled faces Anatomical location Coordinates Brodmann area Cognitive instruction (Task) x y z Recognize Empathize Object detection Lingual gyrus R 28 -72 -10 BA 18 + Fusiform gyrus R 36 -69 -10 BA 19 + + Cuneus R 28 -78 16 BA 31 + + Superior frontal gyrus L -3 22 52 BA 6 + + + Inferior frontal gyrus L -49 2 20 BA 44 + + + Inferior frontal gyrus R 55 8 16 BA 44 + + + Middle frontal gyrus R 43 29 30 BA 9 + + Supramarginal gyrus L -46 -49 28 BA 42 + Parietal operculum R 50 -24 10 BA 40 + Sup. temporal gyrus R 34 16 -6 BA 38 + Hypothalamus L -3 -6 -11 + Cerebellum L -14 -60 -22 + Activations in categorical analysis with SPM2 at p < 0.05 FDR with clusters > 20 voxels. The coordinates (x, y, z; mm) of the peak activations (+) are listed in stereotactic space . L refers to left hemisphere; R refers to right hemisphere. coefficients and voxel values of a PC were orthonormal Results and their orthogonality reflected the statistical independ- Before the fMRI experiment the subjects' capacity to expe- ence of the PCs. The PC image displays the degree to rience emotions was tested with the German, 20-item ver- which the voxels covaried in each PC, their voxel values sion of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20 ). It (loadings) ranged between -1 and 1. was found that the 14 participating subjects had a normal mean TAS-20 sum score (34.1 +/- 6.3, range 23). This In order to provide a neurophysiological interpretation of indicated that each of the subjects had a high capacity of the components, statistical tests, e.g. unpaired t-tests and introspection and emotional awareness. In the fMRI ses- tests of correlation (Pearson) were applied to the expres- sion the subjects stated that they could readily identify the sion coefficients. The formal criteria for relevant PCs were: seen emotion and generate the corresponding emotion (1) the statistical tests identified the condition differenti- internally as instructed. They detected 92 +/- 0.2 percent ating PCs at a significance level of p < 0.001, and (2) the of the faces wearing earrings. PCs fulfilled the Guttman-Kaiser criterion, the most com- mon retention criterion in PCA  in which PCs associ- The categorical analysis showed that viewing the emo- ated with eigenvalues of the covariance matrix larger in tional face expressions as compared with viewing the magnitude than the average of all eigenvalues are scrambled faces resulted in activations of right visual cor- retained, implying in this analysis that they ranked among tical areas and bilaterally the inferior frontal and superior the first 61 PCs. The voxels describing the nodes of a neu- frontal gyrus (Table 1). Recognizing emotional facial ral network associated with a relevant PC image volume expressions showed the most extensive activation pattern st fulfilled the conditions that the voxel values lie in the 1 involving also the hypothalamus, the left supramarginal th percentile or the 99 percentile of the volume's voxel gyrus, cortical areas at the right temporal parietal junction, value distribution, and that the voxels belong to clusters and the left hypothalamus (Table 1). Empathizing with of greater than 50 voxels. the seen emotion as compared with object detection (con- trol condition) resulted in one activation area which The anatomical locations of the peak activations and of occurred in the left inferior frontal gyrus. Note, that no the coordinates of the maximal PC loadings of the signif- activation occurred in the anterior prefrontal or orbitof- icant PCs are reported in Talairach space . A freely dis- rontal cortex. tributed Matlab script  effected the transformation from MNI space. The network analysis revealed that out of the total of 61 retained PCs four differentiated the experimental condi- Correlation of the expression coefficients of the signifi- tions as found by formal statistical testing (Table 2); for cant PCs with the TAS-20, the Beck Depression Inventory, the 11 statistical tests described below, the probability and the SEE scales was conducted using a Pearson two- threshold corrected for multiple comparisons is p < 0.001. tailed correlation (SPSS for Windows, Version 12.0.1.). PC1 explained 16.8 percent of the variance and distin- The significance level of the correlations was set to p < guished between viewing the happy, sad and neutral faces 0.01. from viewing the scrambled faces during RECOGNIZE, Page 5 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 Table 2: Cerebral circuits in processing of emotional face expressions Coordinates Anatomical location Broadmann area Cluster size XY Z PC1: Face identification (16.8%) Positive loadings 4 53 4 Superior frontal gyrus R BA 10 248 -4 48 -2 Anterior cingulate L BA 32 81 1 31 -7 Anterior cingulate R BA 32 76 38 26 45 Middle frontal gyrus L BA 8 66 -50 -63 31 Angular gyrus L BA 39 53 44 -61 28 Supramarginal gyrus R BA 39 396 Negative loadings -21 -77 -10 Lingual gyrus L BA 18 306 28 -72 -10 Lingual gyrus R BA 18 314 34 -70 15 Cuneus R BA 31 428 -6 -75 44 Precuneus L BA 7 54 PC2: Identification of expressed emotion (4.7%) Positive loadings -30 -74 -10 Fusiform gyrus L BA 19 158 36 -69 -13 Fusiform gyrus R BA 19 252 40 -87 8 Middle occipital gyrus R BA 19 60 6 3 59 Superior frontal gyrus L BA 6 87 -49 2 20 Inferior frontal gyrus L BA 44 65 -3 -6 -11 Hypothalumus L 50 4 -6 -11 Hypothalumus R 63 Negative loadings -5 -73 46 Precuneus L BA 7 51 2 -63 52 Precuneus R BA 7 71 -63 -10 0 Superior temporal gyrus L BA 22 66 -2 4 6 Thalamus L 259 7 -3 6 Thalamus 300 -14 -30 -22 Pons L 80 50 -60 -27 Neocerebellum R 71 PC 12: Attention to expressed emotion (1.6%) Positive loadings 4 -86 17 Cuneus R BA 18 230 54 8 36 Middle frontal gyrus R BA 9 115 55 17 16 Inferior frontal gyrus R BA 44 56 -51 -35 -2 Middle temporal gyrus L BA 22 64 59 -56 3 Middle temporal gyrus R BA 22 119 8-8 12 Thalamus R 377 Negative loadings -12 -77 48 Precuneus L BA 7 117 8 -69 48 Precuneus R BA 7 68 -42 -48 56 Inferior parietal lobule L BA 40 128 -32 60 6 Middle frontal gyrus L BA 10 246 43 29 30 Middle frontal gyrus R BA 9 132 PC 27: Sense of emotional state (0.9%) Positive loadings -48 -57 -6 Middle occipital gyrus L BA 37 68 -28 52 21 Middle frontal gyrus L BA 10 153 -550 Caudate L 66 -13 -18 -25 Pons L 131 -1 -47 -36 Medulla oblongata 192 Negative loadings -42 -59 -17 Fusiform gyrus L BA 37 58 -46 -49 28 Supramarginal gyrus L BA 42 86 51 -34 50 Inferior parietal lobule R BA 40 54 55 -19 16 Parietal operculum R BA 40 53 -55 -40 8 Superior temporal gyrus L BA 22 162 38 8 -26 Superior temporal gyrus R BA 38 59 Shown are the relevant principal components (PC) and their designations. Indicated in the parentheses beside each PC entry is the amount of th variance accounted for by that PC. The coordinates (x, y, z; mm) are listed in stereotactic space . Only those voxels with values lying in the 99 st percentile (positive loadings) or the 1 percentile (negative loadings) and in cluster with sizes greater than 50 voxels were included. L refers to left hemisphere; R refers to right hemisphere. Page 6 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 SHARE EMOTION and DETECT EARRINGS. Accordingly, subjects exhibited score values suggestive of depression, PC1 represented a neural network associated with face this correlation was obtained in the normal range of the identification. The areas with the positive loadings Beck's depression inventory. Nevertheless, a more nega- included the right dorsolateral and superior frontal cortex, tive emotional experience was related to recognizing neu- the left anterior cingulate, and bilaterally the inferior pari- tral faces. Further, the TAS-20 scores correlated negatively etal region. The areas with the negative loading included with PC2 expression coefficients computed for viewing bilaterally the lingual gyrus, the precuneus, and the happy and neutral faces in the control condition DETECT cuneus, which are areas involved in higher order process- EARRINGS. Note, that the TAS-20 classified all subjects as ing of visual information (Table 2, Figures 2 and 3). highly emotionally sensitive. Thus, this correlation sug- gests that the more sensitive to processing of emotion our PC2 explained 4.7 percent of the variance and differenti- subjects were, the more they were so during implicit ated viewing the happy, sad, and neutral faces from view- processing of faces. The SEE-scale score values related to ing scrambled faces during the RECOGNIZE and SHARE experience of emotional control correlated negatively EMOTION conditions (Table 2, Figures 2 and 3). There- with PC 1 expression coefficients computed for viewing of fore, PC2 was expected to depict a neural network associ- sad faces in the RECOGNIZE condition (Figure 5). A sim- ated with the identification of an expressed emotion. In ilar correlation was found for PC27 expression coeffi- fact, the areas with positive loadings included bilaterally cients computed for viewing of neutral faces in the the fusiform gyrus, the right middle occipital gyrus, the RECOGNIZE condition. This suggested that recognizing right superior frontal gyrus, and the left inferior frontal sad and neutral faces was most pronounced in the subjects gyrus. The areas with negative loadings included bilater- whose scores indicated relatively impaired emotional ally the precuneus, the left superior temporal gyrus, as control. Finally, the SEE-scale score values of experience of well as the thalamus, pons, and neocerebellum (Table 2). self-control correlated with PC 12 expression coefficients The relative localization of the cortical areas in the occip- computed for the SHARE EMOTION condition after view- ital cortex and the superior frontal gyrus involved in PC1 ing happy and neutral faces (Figure 6). This suggested that and PC2 is illustrated in Figure 3. subjects with a high level of self-control most strongly empathized with happy and neutral faces. Thus, viewing PC12 explained 1.6 percent of the variance and reflected sad faces may have impaired the subject's perception of the contrast of the conditions SHARE EMOTION and emotional control, while processing the happy face DETECT EARRINGS as well as the contrast of the condi- expression appears to have improved it (Table 3). In con- tions RECOGNIZE and DETECT EARRINGS during and trast, the processing of neutral faces was related to a rela- after viewing happy, sad, or neutral faces. The compari- tively negative emotion, possibly due to the ambiguous sons showed that PC12 represented a neural network character of the neutral faces (Table 3). associated with the subjects' attention to an expressed emotion. Areas involved in this network included the Discussion right cuneus, bilaterally the precuneus, middle frontal and The novel finding of this event-related fMRI study is that temporal gyrus, and left inferior parietal lobule (Table 2). recognizing and empathizing with emotional face expres- sions engaged a widespread cortical network involving PC27 explained 0.9 percent of the variance and repre- visual areas in the temporal and occipital cortex which are sented the contrast of the conditions SHARE EMOTION known to be involved in face processing [12,45-62]. Pre- with RECOGNIZE during and after viewing happy, sad, vious fMRI studies have identified several brain regions and neutral faces. We hypothesized, therefore, that this PC that are consistently activated when perceiving facial stim- characterizes the neural network subserving the sensation uli. These regions include the fusiform gyrus, which is of the emotional state associated with empathy. The often referred to as the "fusiform face area" [45,49-55,61- regions involved were the left fusiform and middle occip- 63], a face-selective region in the occipito-temporal cortex ital gyrus, the left middle frontal gyrus, bilaterally the infe- [45-48,56-60], and the superior temporal sulcus rior parietal lobule and the superior temporal gyrus (Table [12,13,48,52]. 2, Figure 4). Subcortical structures, such as the left caudate and brain stem were also involved. Because the involved cortical areas are active within and across multiple neural networks, the difficulty of assign- Correlation of the PC expression coefficients with the ing a single function to a cortical area becomes apparent behavioral scales of emotional processing yielded the fol- . In fact, disagreement over assigning functions to cor- lowing observations (Table 3). Beck's depression inven- tical areas does exist, with some arguing that function may tory subject scores correlated significantly with the PC2 be tied to elements of experiment design . However, expression coefficients computed for the RECOGNIZE inability to agree over the specific function of cortical condition after viewing neutral faces. Since none of the areas would further suggest that a description of "face net- Page 7 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 B pose SPM2 in a sa in tion ing) negative loading; pre-SM positiv Figure 2 r P ain areas involved in C of s an d on the 1 ( e d in P e u cu p xn e pr e rio C g u canonical sin ession is 2 ( ttal plane sh r: fr re pon re d loadin cune tal – ne t gh gati y A, hy us, thalamus: blu e PC1 and PC2 rus g) g owing the areas involved le-sub ve loading; anterior por- : gre pothalamus: yellow – e ject M n – po Rs image of superim- ie tiv – e load- Brain areas involved in the PC1 and PC2 superim- posed on the canonical single-subject MR image of SPM2 in a sagittal plane showing the areas involved in PC1 (cuneus: red – negative loading; anterior por- tion of superior frontal gyrus: green – positive load- ing) and in PC2 (precuneus, thalamus: blue – negative loading; pre-SMA, hypothalamus: yellow – positive expression loading). Brain on the canonical single-subje an axia in the fusi ing) relative Figure 3 ar l plane showing the la eas form face area in to volved PC1 (red, negative in P C (PC2, yellow, positive load- 1 and P teral position of ct MR im C loa 2 sup d age of SPM2 in ing) erimposed activity Brain areas involved in PC1 and PC2 superimposed work" or "face pathway" may be more accurate than "face on the canonical single-subject MR image of SPM2 in region" . an axial plane showing the lateral position of activity in the fusiform face area (PC2, yellow, positive load- Notably, cortical areas in the anterior lateral and medial ing) relative to PC1 (red, negative loading). Note the prefrontal cortex known to participate in manipulating medial prefrontal involvement in PC1 (green, positive load- and monitoring information and controlling behavior ing). were also involved [26,66]. Multivariate image analysis using PCA permits the characterization of different net- works that include brain areas changing brain activity in ously to be involved in attention , and the anterior related to a given task and brain areas contributing to the portion of the superior frontal gyrus has been implicated function without necessarily changing their activity [28- in theory of mind paradigms [26,71]. 31,67]. Specifically, we applied inferential statistical tests to identify the PCs that effectively differentiated between PC2 represented the functional neural network associated the experimental conditions [31,68]. The four thereby with detecting emotional facial expressions, since the net- identified PCs showed more cerebral areas involved than work nodes included bilaterally the fusiform gyrus, corre- in the simple task comparions. These PCs revealed corre- sponding to the so-called fusiform face area. Some studies lations with behavioral data obtained prior to the fMRI have suggested that the fusiform face area mediates the acquisitions, which highlighted their functional rele- lower order processing of simple face recognition , vance. while others have implicated it in higher order processing of faces at a specific level  including emotional detec- Functional neural networks tion  and identity discrimination [58,64]. Also Of the four differentiating PCs, PC1 distingished the neu- included among the nodes were the posterior portion of ral network involved in face indentification, since the the superior frontal and the inferior frontal gyrus, which involved lingual gyrus, cuneus and precuneus have been have been implicated in higher order processing of faces known to be involved in face recognition and visual involving the perception of gaze direction , attention processing [68,69]. The lingual gyrus has been linked to to faces , eye and mouth movements , and empa- an early stage of facial processing which occurs before spe- thy [25,76]. Thus, our analysis, relating the concerted cific identification occurs . Conversely, the angular action of the fusiform and superior frontal gyrus to the gyrus and the anterior cingulate have been shown previ- detection of emotional face expressions, substantiates pre- Page 8 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 and are thought to regulate the emotions, drives, and motivated behavior [2,79,80]. The third statistically relevant PC, PC12, was related to the attentive processing of expressed emotions. Accordingly, the involved cortical areas, e.g. the precuneus, cuneus, middle frontal gyrus, and thalamus have all been linked to tasks related to controlling attention [81-83]. The infe- rior frontal gyrus has been shown to be involved in response inhibition during attention , while the mid- dle temporal gyrus has been implicated in attention to facial stimuli  and to visual attention in general [81,82]. PC27 appeared to represent a network mediating a 'feel- ing' or sense of an observed emotional state. In fact, the superior temporal gyrus has been shown to play an important role in perceiving self/other distinctions, and, importantly, in experiencing a sense of agency [85,86]. Also, the superior temporal gyrus seems to be important for "theory of mind" capabilities [87-89]. Similarly, the right inferior parietal lobule has been related to an experi- enced sense of agency [85,86], while the temporal parietal junction has been thought to be crucial to larger networks mediating spatial unity of the self and body [89,90], and attention [81,91,92]. In PC27 MR ima loading) Figure 4 volvem supe ge of SPM2 in an axial pla en rimpose t of thed left s on th uperior temporal gyrus in e canonical sin ne (blue, negative gle-subject Involvement of the left superior temporal gyrus in Activity within and across functional networks PC27 superimposed on the canonical single-subject MR image of SPM2 in an axial plane (blue, negative Empathic processes allow individuals to quickly asses the loading). emotional states and needs of other individuals while rap- idly transmitting our own experiences and needs . Thus, emphatic experiences are crucial to rapid and suc- vious work showing that the conjoint activity of the fusi- cessful social interaction [94,95]. The recognition of emo- form gyrus and cortex lining the superior temporal sulcus tional states and cognitive processing of another's are related to higher order processing of facial features emotional expression are critical skillsets utilized by all [45,53,56,58,64,72-74]. We propose that these areas con- humans upon perceiving another person's face. In order stitute a system involved in facial affect processing. to properly behave in a social situation, one must under- stand the context of the situation before an appropriate PC2 also implicated subcortical structures such as the tha- action can be taken. lamus and the hypothalamus bilaterally, and the cerebel- lum. These structures belong to the anterior cingulate – The participation of the prefrontal cortex in the four rele- ventral striatum – thalamus – hypothalamus loop [76-78] vant PCs in our study not only support the view that dif- Table 3: Correlation of behavioral data vs. expression coefficients Toronto alexthymia scale-20 Beck depression inventory Experience of control of emotion Experience of self control R value P value R value P value R value P value R value P value Condition/PC Condition/PC Condition/PC Condition/PC CH 2 -0.670 0.009 RaN 2 0.667 0.009 RS 1 -0.687 0.007 EaH 12 0.757 0.002 CN 2 -0.683 0.007 RN 27 -0.675 0.008 EaN 12 0.778 0.001 C = DETECT EARRINGS (Control), E = SHARE EMOTION, R = RECOGNIZE, H = Happy, S = Sad, N = Neutral, aH = after Happy, aN = after Neutral Page 9 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 icant carrier of emotional information is an important source for these evaluative and appraisal functions. The four neural networks involved in the recognition of faces and the cognitive control of emotions capture the functions that this study aimed to explore. Our results support numerous studies that hypothesize distinct neu- ral networks for recognizing facial features and emotional expressions [11,13-17,96,97]. In particular, although PC 1 and PC 2 differentiated lower-order facial identification and higher-order facial feature processing, the cortical areas within each PC contained brain areas associated with functions effected by the neural networks depicted in the other PCs. Thus, the middle frontal gyrus activated in all four principal components has been shown to be related to inhibition , successful recognition of previ- ously studied items , and successful error detection, Regr with data lighting the Figure 5 ession of the test scores p functional releva lots of expression coefficients of th nce of e 14 th su ese bje PCs c of PC1 ts high- response inhibition, interference resolution, and behavio- Regression plots of expression coefficients of PC1 ral conflict resolution associated with completing the with data of the test scores of the 14 subjects high- lighting the functional relevance of these PCs. Stroop Color-Word task . Moreover, the PC repre- senting a basic visual function, PC1 included activation of the right anterior cingulate which has been shown to ferent cognitive functions work together to play a role in severely impact the processing of emotional expressions distinct neural networks, but, as well, further the notion [101,102]. Apparent also in PC1, the lingual gyrus and that the medial pre-frontal cortex is the junction point cuneus have been implicated in the higher-order process- where different visual, attentive, emotional and higher ing of emotional expression  and the lingual gyrus order cognitive processes come together in order to allow has been implicated in motional information . Inter- for a subjective reaction towards the exterior world . estingly the anterior cingulate has also been thought to The medial-pre-frontal integration of own cognitive con- cognitively monitor the control of response conflict in cepts, implicit affective schemata and empathy-based information processing  and in the regulation of anticipation of the possible reactions of important other cognitive and emotional processing . In a case study, individuals allows for an effective selection and adaptive Steeves et al.  demonstrated that an intact fusiform planning of one's own actions. The face as the most signif- face area was sufficient for identifying faces, but a lesion in the occipital face area prevented the patient from higher-order processing of faces such as identity, gender, or emotion. Out results are also in accordance with the idea that emo- tion recognition may play a role in the lower order process of face identification, but this role is limited at best and functions mainly as a stepping stone for higher order rec- ognition of emotional expressions. . Although the lingual gyrus in PC1 and the fusiform face area in PC2 are located closely anatomically, our analysis suggests that they are involved in distinct neural networks related to different subfunctions, face identification and detection of emotional facial expressions, repectively, of facial processing. Nevertheless, it is possible that the subjects recognized the emotions implicitly also in the DETECT EARRING condition. However, the cognitive instruction in this study was that during the RECOGNIZE and SHARE Regr with data lighting the Figure 6 ession of the test scores p functional releva lots of expression coefficients of th nce of e 14 th su ese bje PCs c of PC12 ts high- EMOTION conditions the subjects had to appraise the Regression plots of expression coefficients of PC12 emotions explicitly. In fact, this difference resulted in with data of the test scores of the 14 subjects high- lighting the functional relevance of these PCs. additional brain structures involved in the explicit processing conditions. Page 10 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes) Behavioral and Brain Functions 2008, 4:41 http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/4/1/41 The involvement of closely adjacent cortical areas in dif- References 1. 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Schäfer R, Popp K, Jörgens S, Lindenberg R, Franz M, Seitz RJ: Alex- yours — you keep the copyright ithymia-like disorder in right anterior cingulate infarction. BioMedcentral Neurocase 2007, 13:201-208. Submit your manuscript here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/info/publishing_adv.asp Page 13 of 13 (page number not for citation purposes)
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