Biasing the perception of ambiguous vocal affect: a TMS study on frontal asymmetry

Donhauser, P. W., Belin, P. and Grosbras, M.-H. (2013) Biasing the perception of ambiguous vocal affect: a TMS study on frontal asymmetry. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(7), pp. 1046-1051. (doi: 10.1093/scan/nst080) (PMID:23784072) (PMCID:PMC4090968)

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Several sources of evidence point toward a link between asymmetry of prefrontal brain activity and approach–withdrawal tendencies. Here, we tested the causal nature of this link and examined if the categorization of an ambiguous approach- or withdrawal-related vocal signal can be biased by manipulating left and right frontal neural activity. We used voice morphing of affective non-verbal vocalizations to create individually tailored affectively ambiguous stimuli on an Anger–Fear continuum—two emotions that represent extremes on the approach–withdrawal dimension. We tested perception of these stimuli after 10 min of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over left or right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or over the vertex (control), a technique that has transient inhibitory effects on the targeted brain region. As expected, ambiguous stimuli were more likely perceived as expressing Anger (approach) than Fear (withdrawal) after right prefrontal compared with left prefrontal or control stimulation. These results provide the first evidence that the manipulation of asymmetrical activity in prefrontal cortex can change the explicit categorization of ambiguous emotional signals.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Belin, Professor Pascal and Grosbras, Dr Marie-Helene
Authors: Donhauser, P. W., Belin, P., and Grosbras, M.-H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Publisher:Optical Society of America
ISSN (Online):1749-5024
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
First Published:First published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 2013
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
571171Cerebral processing of nonverbal affective vocalizationsPascal BelinBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/J003654/1INP - CENTRE FOR COGNITIVE NEUROIMAGING