News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.


The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

The Neural Representation of Typical and Atypical Experiences of Negative Images: Comparing Fear, Disgust and Morbid Fascination

By Suzanne Oosterwijk, Kristen A. LindquistMorenikeji Adebayo, and Lisa Feldman Barrett | Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | July 14, 2015


Negative stimuli do not only evoke fear or disgust, but can also evoke a state of “morbid fascination” which is an urge to approach and explore a negative stimulus. In the present neuroimaging study, we applied an innovative method to investigate the neural systems involved in typical and atypical conceptualizations of negative images. Participants received false feedback labeling their mental experience as fear, disgust or morbid fascination. This manipulation was successful; participants judged the false feedback correct for 70% of the trials on average. The neuroimaging results demonstrated differential activity within regions in the ‘neural reference space for discrete emotion’ depending on the type of feedback. We found robust differences in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex comparing morbid fascination to control feedback. More subtle differences in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex were also found between morbid fascination feedback and the other emotion feedback conditions. The present study is the first to forward evidence about the neural representation of the experimentally unexplored state of morbid fascination. In line with a constructionist framework, our findings suggest that neural resources associated with the process of conceptualization contribute to the neural representation of this state.

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Intrinsic connectivity in the human brain does not reveal networks for “basic” emotions

Alexandra Touroutoglou, Kristen A. Lindquist, Bradford C. Dickerson and Lisa Feldman Barrett | Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | February 12, 2015


We tested two competing models for the brain basis of emotion, the basic emotion theory and the conceptual act theory of emotion, using resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fcMRI). The basic emotion view hypothesizes that anger, sadness, fear, disgust and happiness each arise from a brain network that is innate, anatomically constrained, and homologous in other animals. The conceptual act theory of emotion hypothesizes that an instance of emotion is a brain state constructed from the interaction of domain-general, core systems within the brain such as the salience, default mode, and frontoparietal control networks. Using peak coordinates derived from a meta-analysis of task-related emotion fMRI studies, we generated a set of whole-brain rs-fcMRI “discovery” maps for each emotion category, and examined the spatial overlap in their conjunctions. Instead of discovering a specific network for each emotion category, variance in the discovery maps was accounted for by the known domain-general network. Furthermore, the salience network observed as part of every emotion category. These results indicate that specific networks for each emotion do not exist within the intrinsic architecture of the human brain, and instead support the conceptual act theory of emotion.

Read the full paper here.