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Research Article

Early gamma-band activity as a function of threat processing in the extrastriate visual cortex


Various neuroimaging investigations have revealed that perception of emotional pictures is associated with greater visual cortex activity than their neutral counterparts. It has further been proposed that threat-related information is rapidly processed, suggesting that the modulation of visual cortex activity should occur at an early stage. Additional studies have demonstrated that oscillatory activity in the gamma band range (40–100 Hz) is associated with threat processing. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to investigate such activity during perception of task-irrelevant, threat-related versus neutral facial expressions. Our results demonstrated a bilateral reduction in gamma band activity for expressions of threat, specifically anger, compared with neutral faces in extrastriate visual cortex (BA 18) within 50–250 ms of stimulus onset. These results suggest that gamma activity in visual cortex may play a role in affective modulation of visual processing, in particular with the perception of threat cues.