Patients with ventromedial prefrontal lesions show an implicit approach bias to angry faces
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33, 6, (2021), pp. 1069-1081
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
SW OZ DCC NRP
SW OZ BSI KLP
PI Group Affective Neuroscience
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Subject230 Affective Neuroscience; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Damage to the ventromedial PFC (VMPFC) can cause maladaptive social behavior, but the cognitive processes underlying these behavioral changes are still uncertain. Here, we tested whether patients with acquired VMPFC lesions show altered approach–avoidance tendencies to emotional facial expressions. Thirteen patients with focal VMPFC lesions and 31 age- and gender-matched healthy controls performed an implicit approach–avoidance task in which they either pushed or pulled a joystick depending on stimulus color. Whereas controls avoided angry faces, VMPFC patients displayed an incongruent response pattern characterized by both increased approach and reduced avoidance of angry facial expressions. The approach bias was stronger in patients with higher self-reported impulsivity and disinhibition and in those with larger lesions. We further used linear ballistic accumulator modeling to investigate latent parameters underlying approach-avoidance decisions. Controls displayed negative drift rates when approaching angry faces, whereas VMPFC lesions abolished this pattern. In addition, VMPFC patients had weaker response drifts than controls during avoidance. Finally, patients showed reduced drift rate variability and shorter nondecision times, indicating impulsive and rigid decision-making. Our findings thus suggest that VMPFC damage alters the pace of evidence accumulation in response to social signals, eliminating a default, protective avoidant bias and facilitating a dysfunctional approach behavior.
Upload full text
Use your RU credentials (u/z-number and password) to log in with SURFconext to upload a file for processing by the repository team.