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Dynamic modulation of emotional processing


Okon-Singer,  Hadas
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Okon-Singer, H., Lichtenstein-Vidne, L., & Cohen, N. (2013). Dynamic modulation of emotional processing. Biological Psychology, 92(3), 480-491. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.05.010.

Recent findings suggest the processing of emotional stimuli is prioritized compared to neutral stimuli; however, it is not necessarily automatic and depends on several modulating factors. The current paper highlights three major factors that affect the reactions to emotional stimuli: (i) stimulus properties, (ii) task demands and attention, and (iii) individual characteristics. The evidence reviewed here suggests that individual characteristics shape the structure, function and connectivity within a neural network that is involved in the reactions to emotional stimuli. This neural network includes regions related to emotion and attention, in line with evidence for reciprocal connections between these two processes. Activation in this network further depends on the emotional value of a certain item, as well as physical features of the stimulus. This integrative view can lead to better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of emotional reactions, as well as better therapeutic approaches.