Emotions are often object related - they are about someone or something in the world. It is yet an open question whether emotions and the associated perceptual contents that they refer to are processed by different parts of the brain or whether the brain regions that mediate emotions are also involved in the processing of the associated content they refer to. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we showed that simply combining music (rich in emotion but poor in information about the concrete world) with neutral films (poor in emotionality but rich in real-world details) yields increased activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and lateral prefrontal regions. In contrast, emotional music on its own did not elicit a differential response in these regions. The finding that the amygdala, the heart of the emotional brain, responds increasingly to an emotional stimulus when it is associated with realistic scenes supports a fundamental role for concrete real-world content in emotional processing.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the Israeli Science Foundation (Bikura Program 1440/04, TH), the Israeli Ministry of Science and Sport. We thank Dr. Pazit Pianka for assistance during data acquisition, Dr. Arnon Neufeld and Mr. Oren Levin for technical assistance with data acquisition, Dr. Itamar Kahn for most insightful discussions over the data, Dr. Ricardo Tarrasch for statistical assistance, Dr. David Papo for comments on the manuscript, and Ms. Nirit Binyamini for assistance with the graphics.
- Prefrontal cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience