Negative stereotype activation alters interaction between neural correlates of arousal, inhibition and cognitive control

Chad E. Forbes, Christine L. Cox, Toni Schmader, Lee Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Priming negative stereotypes of African Americans can bias perceptions toward novel Black targets, but less is known about how these perceptions ultimately arise. Examining how neural regions involved in arousal, inhibition and control covary when negative stereotypes are activated can provide insight into whether individuals attempt to downregulate biases. Using fMRI, White egalitarian-motivated participants were shown Black and White faces at fast (32 ms) or slow (525 ms) presentation speeds. To create a racially negative stereotypic context, participants listened to violent and misogynistic rap (VMR) in the background. No music (NM) and death metal (DM) were used as control conditions in separate blocks. Fast exposure of Black faces elicited amygdala activation in the NM and VMR conditions (but not DM), that also negatively covaried with activation in prefrontal regions. Only in VMR, however, did amygdala activation for Black faces persist during slow exposure and positively covary with activation in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex while negatively covarying with activation in orbitofrontal cortex. Findings suggest that contexts that prime negative racial stereotypes seem to hinder the downregulation of amygdala activation that typically occurs when egalitarian perceivers are exposed to Black faces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernsr052
Pages (from-to)771-781
Number of pages11
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Amygdala
  • Implicit and explicit processing
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Social neuroscience
  • Stereotype inhibition
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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