Pictures of disgusting foods and disgusted facial expressions suppress the tongue motor cortex
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-19, 01:48 authored by Vicario, CM, Rafal, RD, Borgomaneri, S, Paracampo, R, Kritikos, A, Avenanti, A
The tongue holds a unique role in gustatory disgust. However, it is unclear whether the tongue representation in the motor cortex (tM1) is affected by the sight of distaste-related stimuli. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy humans, we recorded tongue motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) as an index of tM1 cortico-hypoglossal excitability. MEPs were recorded while participants viewed pictures associated with gustatory disgust and revulsion (i.e. rotten foods and faces expressing distaste), non-oral-related disgusting stimuli (i.e. invertebrates like worms) and control stimuli. We found that oral-related disgust pictures suppressed tM1 cortico-hypoglossal output. This tM1 suppression was predicted by interindividual differences in disgust sensitivity. No similar suppression was found for disgusting invertebrates or when MEPs were recorded from a control muscle. These findings suggest that revulsion-eliciting food pictures trigger anticipatory inhibition mechanisms, possibly preventing toxin swallowing and contamination. A similar suppression is elicited when viewing distaste expressions, suggesting vicarious motor inhibition during social perception of disgust. Our study suggests an avoidant-defensive mechanism in human cortico-hypoglossal circuits and its ‘resonant’ activation in the vicarious experience of others’ distaste. These findings support a role for the motor system in emotion-driven motor anticipation and social cognition.
Publication titleSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statementCopyright 2016 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/