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Are coarse scales sufficient for fast detection of visual threat?

Mermillod, M. and Droit-Volet, S. and Devaux, D. and Schaefer, A. and Vermeulen, N. (2010) 'Are coarse scales sufficient for fast detection of visual threat?', Psychological science., 21 (10). pp. 1429-1437.


It has recently been suggested that low-spatial-frequency information would provide rapid visual cues to the amygdala for basic but ultrarapid behavioral responses to dangerous stimuli. The present behavioral study investigated the role of different spatial-frequency channels in visually detecting dangerous stimuli belonging to living or nonliving categories. Subjects were engaged in a visual detection task involving dangerous stimuli, and subjects' behavioral responses were assessed in association with their fear expectations (induced by an aversive 90-dB white noise). Our results showed that, despite its crudeness, low-spatial-frequency information could constitute a sufficient signal for fast recognition of visual danger in a context of fear expectation. In addition, we found that this effect tended to be specific for living entities. These results were obtained despite a strong perceptual bias toward faster recognition of high-spatial-frequency stimuli under supraliminal perception durations.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Fear, Perception, Threat detection, Spatial frequencies.
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Record Created:08 Nov 2012 14:20
Last Modified:02 Mar 2017 12:58

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