Deactivation in auditory cortex evoked by affective pictures and revealed by fMRI as a potential neural signature of inattentional deafness
This paper explores in more detail the phenomenon of deactivation of the auditory cortex evoked by the presentation of the affective pictures that we accidentally found in one of our recent studies (Litvinova et al., 2016). Data from two previous studies employing affective pictures (Litvinova et al., 2016 and Rozovskaya et al., 2014, 2016) were re-analyzed and demonstrated a similar pattern of results. Emotionally negative scenes elicited significant deactivation in the auditory cortex in passive viewing and during encoding of pictures into memory. Emotional valence (positive, negative or neutral) significantly affected BOLD signal change in the auditory cortex under conditions of passive viewing (with the most pronounced deactivation evoked by mutilation pictures), but not in the memory task condition. However, mere presentation of an affective picture is not enough to induce deactivation in the auditory cortex. Unlike encoding, retrieval of the affective pictures from working memory evokes a significant positive BOLD response. A pronounced leftward hemispheric asymmetry of this response suggests that it may reflect a role of verbal processes in the retrieval of information from the working memory. Overall, our results suggest that the observed phenomenon may reflect a neural signature of inattentional deafness (ID): a failure to perceive auditory stimuli which manifests under high visual perceptual load. Therefore, we predict that passive viewing and memorization of negative affective pictures, but not their retrieval from WM, would be accompanied by the ID effect at the behavioral level.