Images invoke emotion in people, but how is this translated in your brain?

According to new research, your brain can distinguish a certain emotion from an image “in a few milliseconds” (“Brain-inspired”, 2019).

To study this, researchers used a “part machine-learning” and “part human brain-imaging” model to study neural networks through computer systems that reflect the human brain (“Brain-inspired”, 2019).

“ ‘A lot of people assume that humans evaluate their environment in a certain way and emotions follow from specific, ancestrally older brain systems like the limbic system…we found that the visual cortex itself also plays an important role in the processing and perception of emotion,’” stated Philip Kragel, a postdoctoral research associate at the institute of Cognitive Science (“Brain-inspired”, 2019).

The computer was shown a variety of 25,000 images through EmoNET – it saw photos that influenced emotions such as craving, desire, horror, amusement, and more. Interestingly enough, the computer had the easiest time detecting sexual desire and cravings – being accurate 95 percent of the time. Other emotions, such as confusion, were harder to categorize accurately. Colors also elicited certain emotions in the test – black led to anxiety, while red influenced cravings (“Brain-inspired”, 2019).

Human subjects were brought in next to test this same experiment while being monitored by MRIs.

It was found that humans experience and categorize emotion very early on in the brain. Even a very simple image can elicit an emotion – what humans see can make a significant impact on their emotional state and how they experience life, while the computer found itself influenced the most by innately biological urges, even when it wasn’t trained to do so (“Brain-inspired”, 2019).

Reference: University of Colorado at Boulder. (2019, July 26). Brain-inspired computer system sheds surprising new light on how images impact emotions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190726104516.htm

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