Sabatinelli, D.J. (2002). Functional activity in visual cortex: Affective picture processing in women. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 2002). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 (10-B), 4831.

Abstract: People pay special attention to emotional pictures. Prior research has demonstrated that viewing affectively arousing, compared to neutral, pictures heightens activity in the visual cortex. The presence of human faces and image color have been associated with activation in visual cortical structures. The current study investigated the effects of picture emotionality, picture color, and the presence of human faces in a group of 14 women, using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the visual cortex. Results demonstrated that emotional pictures depicting contents specific to appetitive and defensive motivational states (erotica, attacking animals, and scenes of violent death) led to a greatest degree of functional activity in the visual system than other pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral picture contents. This pattern of cortical activation was not dependent on the presence of faces or color in the pictures stimuli. The data suggest that the brain is particularly sensitive to the motivationally relevant content of a visual scene. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)