Fear from the heart: sensitivity to fear stimuli depends on individual heartbeats

Garfinkel, Sarah N., Minati, Ludovico, Gray, Marcus A., Seth, Anil K., Dolan, Raymond J. and Critchley, Hugo D. (2014) Fear from the heart: sensitivity to fear stimuli depends on individual heartbeats. Journal of Neuroscience, 34 19: 6573-6582. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3507-13.2014

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Author Garfinkel, Sarah N.
Minati, Ludovico
Gray, Marcus A.
Seth, Anil K.
Dolan, Raymond J.
Critchley, Hugo D.
Title Fear from the heart: sensitivity to fear stimuli depends on individual heartbeats
Journal name Journal of Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0270-6474
Publication date 2014-05-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3507-13.2014
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 34
Issue 19
Start page 6573
End page 6582
Total pages 10
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher Society for Neuroscience
Language eng
Abstract Cognitions and emotions can be influenced by bodily physiology. Here, we investigated whether the processing of brief fear stimuli is selectively gated by their timing in relation to individual heartbeats. Emotional and neutral faces were presented to human volunteers at cardiac systole, when ejection of blood from the heart causes arterial baroreceptors to signal centrally the strength and timing of each heartbeat, and at diastole, the period between heartbeats when baroreceptors are quiescent. Participants performed behavioral and neuroimaging tasks to determine whether these interoceptive signals influence the detection of emotional stimuli at the threshold of conscious awareness and alter judgments of emotionality of fearful and neutral faces. Our results show that fearful faces were detected more easily and were rated as more intense at systole than at diastole. Correspondingly, amygdala responses were greater to fearful faces presented at systole relative to diastole. These novel findings highlight a major channel by which short-term interoceptive fluctuations enhance perceptual and evaluative processes specifically related to the processing of fear and threat and counter the view that baroreceptor afferent signaling is always inhibitory to sensory perception.
Keyword Amygdala
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID 091593
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
Centre for Advanced Imaging Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 46 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 49 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 22 May 2014, 03:16:54 EST by Sandrine Ducrot on behalf of Centre for Advanced Imaging