Threat as a feature in visual semantic object memory

Clifford S. Calley, Michael A. Motes, H. Sheng Chiang, Virginia Buhl, Jeffrey S. Spence, Hervé Abdi, Raksha Anand, Mandy Maguire, Leonardo Estevez, Richard Briggs, Thomas Freeman, Michael A. Kraut, John Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Threatening stimuli have been found to modulate visual processes related to perception and attention. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated whether threat modulates visual object recognition of man-made and naturally occurring categories of stimuli. Compared with nonthreatening pictures, threatening pictures of real items elicited larger fMRI BOLD signal changes in medial visual cortices extending inferiorly into the temporo-occipital (TO) "what" pathways. This region elicited greater signal changes for threatening items compared to nonthreatening from both the natural-occurring and man-made stimulus supraordinate categories, demonstrating a featural component to these visual processing areas. Two additional loci of signal changes within more lateral inferior TO areas (bilateral BA18 and 19 as well as the right ventral temporal lobe) were detected for a category-feature interaction, with stronger responses to man-made (category) threatening (feature) stimuli than to natural threats. The findings are discussed in terms of visual recognition of processing efficiently or rapidly groups of items that confer an advantage for survival. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1946-1955
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Category
  • Emotion
  • FMRI
  • Feature
  • Memory
  • Object
  • Semantic
  • Threat
  • Visual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Threat as a feature in visual semantic object memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this