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Photo Negatives
16 September 2015

Photo Negatives

Humans are emotional creatures. But as well as the good stuff like happiness, darker feelings can lead to mental health problems including anxiety, depression and addiction. Using a scanning technique called functional MRI – which pinpoints parts of the brain that are active – researchers have been mapping the bits of the brain that 'light up' when people are triggered to feel negative emotions, by showing them depressing or unpleasant photos. The experiments reveal a characteristic signature of activity across many different parts of the brain, seen here as the blue and yellow patches in these scans from one volunteer in the study, which can predict how strong their negative feelings are likely to be in response to different pictures. Mapping the signatures of emotion in this way starts to provide a deeper understanding of the physical roots of mental illness, guiding the development of better tools for diagnosis and treatment.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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