Attention and Emotion

Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal


Attention is central to many functions such as vision, emotion, reward, working memory and access awareness. However, it is not clear how attention interacts with emotion and how to separate them. We report that (1) Visual attention is a (reentrant) neural signal that enhances the feed-forward stimulus-related signal by modulating it. (2) Emotion is feeling related affective subjective experience; its neural correlate is amygdala-neural-net. (3) Attentional modulating signal could be in forward (bottom-up) direction from attentional 'source' such as thalamic reticular nucleus or in backward (feedback, top-down) direction from attentional 'source' such as fronto-parietal network. The 'targets' of attention may be fusiform gyrus for face recognition, amygdala for emotion, and 'nucleus accumbens, amygdala, sublenticular extended amygdala of the basal forebrain, hypothalamus, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventral tegmentum of the midbrain in humans' for reward system. (4) There are five aspects of attention reflected in five attentional tasks: sustained, covert, divided, selective, and switching attention. The basic attention mechanism may be similar in all attentional tasks. (5) Selective attention plays major role in facial emotion. (6) Attention potentiates the processing of face recognition, sharpens the discriminations of facial emotions, and increases the sensitivity of reward. Emotional salience
of the stimuli can regulate attention. (7) It is possible to separate attentional areas from emotion related areas using fMRI. (8) A dual-aspect framework can address the explanatory gap (how emotional subjective experiences can arise in emotion related neural-net). In conclusion, attention modulates emotion and related systems such as face recognition and reward.


Attention; Face recognition; Fusiform gyrus; Emotion; Emotional salience; Amygdala; Reward; Nucleus accumbens; Sublenticular extended amygdala of the basal forebrain; Hypothalamus; Orbitofrontal cortex; Ventral tegmentum of the midbrain; fMRI.

Full Text: