Attention and awareness each influence amygdala activity for dynamic bodily expressions—a short review


The amygdala (AMG) has long been viewed as the gateway to sensory processing of emotions and is also known to play an important role at the interface between cognition and emotion. However, the debate continues on whether AMG activation is independent of attentional demands. Recently, researchers started exploring AMG functions using dynamic stimuli rather than the traditional pictures of facial expressions. Our present goal is to review some recent studies using dynamic stimuli to investigate AMG activation and discuss the impact of different viewing conditions, including oddball detection, explicit or implicit recognition, variable cognitive task load, and non-conscious perception. In the second part, we sketch a dynamic dual route perspective of affective perception and discuss the implications for AMG activity. We sketch a dynamic dual route perspective of affective perception. We argue that this allows for multiple AMG involvement in separate networks and at different times in the processing streams. Attention has a different impact on these separate but interacting networks. Route I is engaged in early emotion processing, is partly supported by AMG activity, and is possibly independent of attention, whereas activity related to late emotion processing is influenced by attention. Route II is a cortical-based network that underlies body recognition and action representation. The end result of route I and II is reflexive and voluntary behavior, respectively. We conclude that using dynamic emotion stimuli and a dynamic dual route model of affective perception can provide new insights into the varieties of AMG activation.

Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience