Dartmouth researcher discovers ‘brain signature’ that predicts human emotions

first_imgShare on Twitter Email LinkedIn Share on Facebook “It’s an impressive demonstration of imaging our feelings, of decoding our emotions from brain activity,” says lead author Luke Chang, an assistant professor in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth. “Emotions are central to our daily lives and emotional dysregulation is at the heart of many brain- and body-related disorders, but we don’t have a clear understanding of how emotions are processed in the brain. Thus, understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that generate and reduce negative emotional experiences is paramount.”The quest to understand the “emotional brain” has motivated hundreds of neuroimaging studies in recent years. But for neuroimaging to be useful, sensitive and specific “brain signatures” must be developed that can be applied to individual people to yield information about their emotional experiences, neuropathology or treatment prognosis. Thus far, the neuroscience of emotion has yielded many important results but no such indicators for emotional experiences.In their new study, the researchers’ goals were to develop a brain signature that predicts the intensity of negative emotional responses to evocative images; to test the signature in generalizing across individual participants and images; to examine the signature’s specificity related to pain; and to explore the neural circuitry necessary to predict negative emotional experience.Chang and his colleagues studied 182 participants who were shown negative photos (bodily injuries, acts of aggression, hate groups, car wrecks, human feces) and neutral photos. Thirty additional participants were also subjected to painful heat. Using brain imaging and machine learning techniques, the researchers identified a neural signature of negative emotion — a single neural activation pattern distributed across the entire brain that accurately predicts how negative a person will feel after viewing unpleasant images.“This means that brain imaging has the potential to accurately uncover how someone is feeling without knowing anything about them other than their brain activity,” Chang says. “This has enormous implications for improving our understanding of how emotions are generated and regulated, which have been notoriously difficult to define and measure. In addition, these new types of neural measures may prove to be important in identifying when people are having abnormal emotional responses – for example, too much or too little — which might indicate broader issues with health and mental functioning.”Unlike most previous research, the new study included a large sample size that reflects the general adult population and not just young college students; used machine learning and statistics to develop a predictive model of emotion; and, most importantly, tested participants across multiple psychological states, which allowed researchers to assess the sensitivity and specificity of their brain model.“We were particularly surprised by how well our pattern performed in predicting the magnitude and type of aversive experience,” Chang says. “As skepticism for neuroimaging grows based on over-sold and -interpreted findings and failures to replicate based on small sizes, many neuroscientists might be surprised by how well our signature performed. Another surprising finding is that our emotion brain signature using lots of people performed better at predicting how a person was feeling than their own brain data. There is an intuition that feelings are very idiosyncratic and vary across people. However, because we trained the pattern using so many participants – for example, four to 10 times the standard fMRI experiment — we were able to uncover responses that generalized beyond the training sample to new participants remarkably well.”center_img Pinterest Share A Dartmouth researcher and his colleagues have discovered a way to predict human emotions based on brain activity.The study is unusual because of its accuracy — more than 90 percent — and the large number of participants who reflect the general adult population rather than just college students. The findings could help in diagnosing and treating a range of mental and physical health conditions.The study appears in the journal PLOS Biology.last_img read more

Death toll in ambulance-car bombing claimed by Taliban rises to 95 with more than 150 injured

first_img Related iStock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) — A powerful suicide car bomb rocked Afghanistan’s capital Saturday morning, killing at least 95 people and injuring 158, according to Wahidullah Majrooh, a spokesman for the country’s health ministry.The Taliban claimed responsibility for the insurgent attack in Kabul, which is the deadliest in the country so far this year.Police in Kabul said the explosion occurred near the entrance to the government’s former interior ministry building at the end of Chicken Street, a popular thoroughfare for shopping. The attacker was driving an ambulance, according to the Afghan interior ministry.“I was in my shop. I heard a big boom,” Haji Wali, a shopkeeper told ABC News. “I came out and helped the people wounded. There were many people wounded. People are still laying down on the footpaths close to shops.”Thick, dark smoke was seen billowing into the sky after the blast.Emergency Hospital, on the front line of trauma care in Afghanistan and run by an Italian charity, said it received at least 50 injured victims.“I helped and moved around 50 to 60 wounded people myself,” a man on the street named Parwaiz Ihsan told ABC News. “I just came back but there are many dead bodies still laying down there; we couldn’t move them.”Afghanistan’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, decried the attack as “insane, inhuman, heinous and a war crime” via his official Twitter account. He also urged the international community to “take further action against state sponsored terrorism.”Abdullah tweeted, “Our priority and focus right now is to help those in need and provide the best treatment for those wounded. This is the moment when we all need to stand together and punch our enemy hard. This is enough!”U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass also condemned Saturday’s attack, describing it as a “senseless and cowardly bombing.”“My government and I stand with the brave people of Afghanistan,” Bass said in a statement. “Their work to create a peaceful, prosperous future for all the citizens of this country is the best response to terrorists and others who know only violence.” Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMaticolast_img read more