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Virtual fMRI brown bag: November 6

Please join us for a talk given by Heini Saarimäki, a postdoctoral research fellow at Tampere University in Finland. Dr. Saarimäki was nominated for an fMRI brown bag by Dartmouth College graduate student, Mijin Kwon.

Dr. Saarimäki's research interests are in the field of social and affective neuroscience, and her research has focused on the neural underpinnings of human emotions. She has studied the neural basis of different emotions and their relationship to subjective experiences of emotions, as well as the flow of emotions during natural interaction. In her research, she combines naturalistic stimuli (such as movies and narratives), brain imaging (mostly fMRI), and pattern classification methods with self-reports and other measures of subjective experiences.

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Place: Zoom

For a recording of this talk, please email Adam Steel or Courtney Rogers.

Examining the neural basis of emotional experiences with naturalistic paradigms

From scientists to parents of any two-year-old, from philosophers since ancient Greece to young lovers, the nature of emotions is one of the mysteries continuously intriguing the human mind. In our everyday life, we use emotion concepts to identify, categorize, and label our emotional experiences. However, understanding the neural basis of emotional experiences remains an open challenge in affective neuroscience. What leads us to label a specific experience as, say, joy or gratitude? Why do some emotions feel more similar to each other than others? Naturalistic, dynamic stimuli offer promising avenues for investigating brain function across the spectrum of human experiences. While naturalistic stimuli have been successfully employed to study various cognitive processes, emotions as multimodal, highly distributed, and individually varied phenomena pose specific methodological challenges for naturalistic neuroimaging. Especially, investigating emotional experiences depends on reliable modeling of emotion-related features both in the environment and within the individual. In this talk, I will highlight recent research exploring the brain activity patterns underlying different emotional states, the neural dynamics of emotional experiences, and the individual variation in emotional experiences. Drawing on our research combining functional magnetic resonance imaging with movies and narratives, I show examples of how emotional experiences have been extracted and integrated with brain imaging data. Finally, I will discuss how naturalistic paradigms can be employed to advance emotion theories.