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Syllogisms delivered in an angry voice lead to improved performance and engagement of a different neural system compared to neutral voice

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      Despite the fact that most real-world reasoning occurs in some emotional context, very little is known about the underlying behavioral and neural implications of such context. To further understand the role of emotional context in logical reasoning we scanned 15 participants with fMRI while they engaged in logical reasoning about neutral syllogisms presented through the auditory channel in a sad, angry, or neutral tone of voice. Exposure to angry voice led to improved reasoning performance compared to exposure to sad and neutral voice. A likely explanation for this effect is that exposure to expressions of anger increases selective attention toward the relevant features of target stimuli, in this case the reasoning task. Supporting this interpretation, reasoning in the context of angry voice was accompanied by activation in the superior frontal gyrus—a region known to be associated with selective attention. Our findings contribute to a greater understanding of the neural processes that underlie reasoning in an emotional context by demonstrating that two emotional contexts, despite being of the same (negative) valence, have different effects on reasoning.

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          Finding objective and effective thresholds for voxelwise statistics derived from neuroimaging data has been a long-standing problem. With at least one test performed for every voxel in an image, some correction of the thresholds is needed to control the error rates, but standard procedures for multiple hypothesis testing (e.g., Bonferroni) tend to not be sensitive enough to be useful in this context. This paper introduces to the neuroscience literature statistical procedures for controlling the false discovery rate (FDR). Recent theoretical work in statistics suggests that FDR-controlling procedures will be effective for the analysis of neuroimaging data. These procedures operate simultaneously on all voxelwise test statistics to determine which tests should be considered statistically significant. The innovation of the procedures is that they control the expected proportion of the rejected hypotheses that are falsely rejected. We demonstrate this approach using both simulations and functional magnetic resonance imaging data from two simple experiments. (C)2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

            Author and article information

            1Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, York University Toronto, ON, Canada
            2Humanist Canada, Ottawa, ON Canada
            3Department of Psychology, University of Toronto at Scarborough Toronto, ON, Canada
            4IRCCS Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo Venice, Italy
            Author notes

            Edited by: Srikantan S. Nagarajan, University of California, San Francisco, USA

            Reviewed by: Matt Roser, Plymouth University, UK; Bastien Trémolière, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Canada

            *Correspondence: Vinod Goel, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada vgoel@
            Front Hum Neurosci
            Front Hum Neurosci
            Front. Hum. Neurosci.
            Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            12 May 2015
            : 9
            Copyright © 2015 Smith, Balkwill, Vartanian and Goel.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Figures: 6, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 44, Pages: 10, Words: 0
            Original Research


            auditory, emotion, fmri, anger, sadness, reasoning


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