Mind your left: Spatial bias in subcortical fear processing

Tali Siman-Tov, David Papo, Natan Gadoth, Tom Schonberg, Avi Mendelsohn, Daniella Perry, Talma Hendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hemispheric lateralization of emotional processing has long been suggested, but its underlying neural mechanisms have not yet been defined. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, facial expressions were presented to 10 right-handed healthy adult females in an event-related visual halffield presentation paradigm. Differential activations to fearful versus neutral faces were observed in the amygdala, pulvinar, and superior colliculus only for faces presented in the left hemifield. Interestingly, the left hemifield advantage for fear processing was observed in both hemispheres. These results suggest a leftward bias in subcortical fear processing, consistent with the well-documented leftward bias of danger-associated behaviors in animals. The current finding highlights the importance of hemifield advantage in emotional lateralization, which might reflect the combination of hemispheric dominance and asymmetric interhemispheric information transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1782-1789
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation, Bikura program (T. H.), the Binational Science Foundation (T. H.), and the Israel Ministry of Science, Culture & Sport, Merkava program (T. H.). We thank Dr. Yulia Lerner, Ilana Podlipsky, Ronit Libling, Dr. Hadas Okon-Singer, Keren Rosenberg, Dr. Irit Lichter-Shapira, Dr. Galia Avidan, Dr. Galit Yovel, Ayelet Yokev, and Oren Levin for technical and data analysis assistance, as well as Esther Eshkol and Frances Zetland for helpful comments on the manuscript. We especially thank Prof. Leslie Ungerleider for her valuable contribution to the study design and for helpful discussions and critiques.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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