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.
Researcher: Livnat Leemor
Senior Researcher: Simone Shamay-Tsoory
Project Investigator: Wendy Sandler