The structural and functional correlates of the efficiency in fearful face detection

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Human visual system is found to be much efficient in searching for a fearful face. Some individuals are more sensitive to this threat-related stimulus. However, we still know little about the neural correlates of such variability. In the current study, we exploited a visual search paradigm, and asked the subjects to search for a fearful face or a target gender. Every subject showed a shallower search function for fearful face search than face gender search, indicating a stable fearful face advantage. We then used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis and correlated this advantage to the gray matter volume (GMV) of some presumably face related cortical areas. The result revealed that only the left fusiform gyrus showed a significant positive correlation. Next, we defined the left fusiform gyrus as the seed region and calculated its resting state functional connectivity to the whole brain. Correlations were also calculated between fearful face advantage and these connectivities. In this analysis, we found positive correlations in the inferior parietal lobe and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. These results suggested that the anatomical structure of the left fusiform gyrus might determine the search efficiency of fearful face, and frontoparietal attention network involved in this process through top-down attentional modulation.

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