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Pictures of disgusting foods and disgusted facial expressions suppress the tongue motor cortex

Citation

Vicario, CM and Rafal, RD and Borgomaneri, S and Paracampo, R and Kritikos, A and Avenanti, A, Pictures of disgusting foods and disgusted facial expressions suppress the tongue motor cortex, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience pp. 1-11. ISSN 1749-5024 (2016) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1093/scan/nsw129

Abstract

The tongue holds a unique role in gustatory disgust. However, it is unclear whether the tongue representation in the motor cortex (tM1) is affected by the sight of distaste-related stimuli. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy humans, we recorded tongue motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) as an index of tM1 cortico-hypoglossal excitability. MEPs were recorded while participants viewed pictures associated with gustatory disgust and revulsion (i.e. rotten foods and faces expressing distaste), non-oral-related disgusting stimuli (i.e. invertebrates like worms) and control stimuli. We found that oralrelated disgust pictures suppressed tM1 cortico-hypoglossal output. This tM1 suppression was predicted by interindividual differences in disgust sensitivity. No similar suppression was found for disgusting invertebrates or when MEPs were recorded from a control muscle. These findings suggest that revulsion-eliciting food pictures trigger anticipatory inhibition mechanisms, possibly preventing toxin swallowing and contamination. A similar suppression is elicited when viewing distaste expressions, suggesting vicarious motor inhibition during social perception of disgust. Our study suggests an avoidant-defensive mechanism in human cortico-hypoglossal circuits and its ‘resonant’ activation in the vicarious experience of others’ distaste. These findings support a role for the motor system in emotion-driven motor anticipation and social cognition.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:: disgust; emotion recognition; transcranial magnetic stimulation; motor-evoked potentials; tongue motor area
Research Division:Medical and Health Sciences
Research Group:Neurosciences
Research Field:Neurosciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Author:Vicario, CM (Dr Carmelo Vicario)
ID Code:114368
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-02-14
Last Modified:2017-02-14
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