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Effect of Visual Stimuli with Fearful Emotional Cue on Population Receptive Field Estimates

Population receptive field (pRF) estimation is a novel method to estimate receptive fields of neuronal populations and to map the visual cortex. The resulting estimates are known to be affected by the content of stimulus. Additionally, emotion might modulate visual processing in humans by increasing the BOLD activity. Taken together, we hypothesized that the stimulus with emotional cue might affect the pRF parameters. We performed pRF experiments with simultaneous wedge and ring stimuli rendered with scrambled, neutral and emotional images. Results showed that the pRF estimates were affected by the stimulus content in hV4 and V3A, as well as lower retinotopic areas: V1, V2 and V3. The emotional content of stimuli might lead to the increased pRF sizes as well as the shift in pRF centers towards the eccentric side.

Keywords: Neuroimaging, emotional studies, fMRI, population receptive field estimation, pRF.