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Behavioral and neural correlates to multisensory detection of sick humans
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden; Universitätsklinikum Essen, Germany.
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Number of Authors: 9
2017 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 114, no 24, p. 6400-6405Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Throughout human evolution, infectious diseases have been a primary cause of death. Detection of subtle cues indicating sickness and avoidance of sick conspecifics would therefore be an adaptive way of coping with an environment fraught with pathogens. This study determines how humans perceive and integrate early cues of sickness in conspecifics sampled just hours after the induction of immune system activation, and the underlying neural mechanisms for this detection. In a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design, the immune system in 22 sample donors was transiently activated with an endotoxin injection [lipopolysaccharide (LPS)]. Facial photographs and body odor samples were taken from the same donors when sick (LPS-injected) and when healthy (saline-injected) and subsequently were presented to a separate group of participants (n = 30) who rated their liking of the presented person during fMRI scanning. Faces were less socially desirable when sick, and sick body odors tended to lower liking of the faces. Sickness status presented by odor and facial photograph resulted in increased neural activation of odor-and faceperception networks, respectively. A superadditive effect of olfactory-visual integration of sickness cues was found in the intraparietal sulcus, which was functionally connected to core areas of multisensory integration in the superior temporal sulcus and orbitofrontal cortex. Taken together, the results outline a disease-avoidance model in which neural mechanisms involved in the detection of disease cues and multisensory integration are vital parts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 114, no 24, p. 6400-6405
Keyword [en]
body odor, lipopolysaccharide, endotoxin, sickness cues, disease avoidance
National Category
Other Natural Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144781DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1617357114ISI: 000403179300068OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144781DiVA, id: diva2:1127543
Note

We thank Maria Garke for contributions during data collection and Jonathan Berrebi and Rouslan Sitnikov for optimizing the scan protocol. This research was supported by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Postdoctoral Fellowship 91518477 (to C.R.), Swedish Research Council Grants 2012-1125 and 2016-02742 (to M.J.O.), Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences Grant P12-1017 (to M.J.O.), the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation Grant KAW 2012.0141 (to J.N.L.), and Swedish Research Council Grant 2014-1346 (to J.N.L.).

Available from: 2017-07-17 Created: 2017-07-17 Last updated: 2018-01-18Bibliographically approved

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Axelsson, JohnLasselin, JulieSundelin, TinaLekander, Mats
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