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The  GRAMBY  subproject  that  deals  with  the  brain  is  related  to  the  extreme emotions subproject. The goal is to seek the seeds of compositionality in human expression  by  exploring  extreme  emotional  displays  from  both  a  behavioral perspective  and  a  neuropsychological  perspective.   Spontaneous  displays  of extreme  emotion  by  athletes  are  hypothesized  to  reflect  emotions  saliently  and without interference form cultural norms and conventions.

In  this  part  of  the  project,  we  aim  to  determine  whether  emotional  body  and facial   displays   are   compositional   by   looking   at   neuronal   activity   patterns. Experiments are determining which emotions participants judge to be present in displays  of  winners  and  losers,  which  allows  us  to  determine  which  physical features  of  the  displays  are  prototypical  for  each  context,  and which  physical features  are   associated   with   emotions   such   as   happiness, pride, humility, frustration,  etc.  Using  Functional  Magnetic  Resonance  Imaging  (fMRI),  we  will compare   neuronal   reaction   to   prototypically   positive   and   to   prototypically negative  displays,  and,  crucially,  to  displays  that  mix  features from  the  two extremes. We  expect  that  if  emotional  displays  are  compositional,  the  neural response to mixed emotional displays will  combine the reactions to positive and negative emotional displays, helping us to pinpoint specific featural configurations of emotions.  

Research team:

Researcher: Livnat Leemor

Senior Researcher: Simone Shamay-Tsoory

Project Investigator: Wendy Sandler