Effects of spatial frequency and location of fearful faces on human amygdala activity.Brain Res. 2011 Jan 31; 1371:87-99.BR
Facial emotion perception plays a fundamental role in interpersonal social interactions. Images of faces contain visual information at various spatial frequencies. The amygdala has previously been reported to be preferentially responsive to low-spatial frequency (LSF) rather than to high-spatial frequency (HSF) filtered images of faces presented at the center of the visual field. Furthermore, it has been proposed that the amygdala might be especially sensitive to affective stimuli in the periphery. In the present study we investigated the impact of spatial frequency and stimulus eccentricity on face processing in the human amygdala and fusiform gyrus using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The spatial frequencies of pictures of fearful faces were filtered to produce images that retained only LSF or HSF information. Facial images were presented either in the left or right visual field at two different eccentricities. In contrast to previous findings, we found that the amygdala responds to LSF and HSF stimuli in a similar manner regardless of the location of the affective stimuli in the visual field. Furthermore, the fusiform gyrus did not show differential responses to spatial frequency filtered images of faces. Our findings argue against the view that LSF information plays a crucial role in the processing of facial expressions in the amygdala and of a higher sensitivity to affective stimuli in the periphery.