Check out this new article in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal! Research was conducted by Candice Wang (now at Duke University for graduate school) for her senior thesis, and in collaboration with Dr. Bianciardi’s Brain Stem Imaging Lab at the Martinos Center. This article used high-resolution fMRI to examine the role of the superior colliculus in subjective emotional experience.
Previously, research in rodents and non-human primates has shown the involvement of the superior colliculus in defensive behavior and visual threat detection, but research in humans has only concluded that the superior colliculus has a role in saccade and visual processing. The study utilized high-resolution fMRI scanning to examine activity in the superior colliculus while subjects viewed either neutral or aversive images. Aversive images elicited stronger activity in the superior colliculus, suggesting that the region contributes to the shaping of subjective emotional experience in addition to its role in visuomotor function in humans. This helps bridge the gap between affective research in humans and non-human model organisms.