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The effect of Ramadan fasting on spatial attention through emotional stimuli

Authors Molavi M, Bin Yunus J, Utama NP

Received 13 November 2015

Accepted for publication 29 January 2016

Published 24 May 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 105—114


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Maziyar Molavi, Jasmy Yunus, Nugraha P Utama

Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences and Medical Engineering (FBME), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Abstract: Fasting can influence psychological and mental states. In the current study, the effect of periodical fasting on the process of emotion through gazed facial expression as a realistic multisource of social information was investigated for the first time. The dynamic cue-target task was applied via behavior and event-related potential measurements for 40 participants to reveal the temporal and spatial brain activities – before, during, and after fasting periods. The significance of fasting included several effects. The amplitude of the N1 component decreased over the centroparietal scalp during fasting. Furthermore, the reaction time during the fasting period decreased. The self-measurement of deficit arousal as well as the mood increased during the fasting period. There was a significant contralateral alteration of P1 over occipital area for the happy facial expression stimuli. The significant effect of gazed expression and its interaction with the emotional stimuli was indicated by the amplitude of N1. Furthermore, the findings of the study approved the validity effect as a congruency between gaze and target position, as indicated by the increment of P3 amplitude over centroparietal area as well as slower reaction time from behavioral response data during incongruency or invalid condition between gaze and target position compared with those during valid condition. Results of this study proved that attention to facial expression stimuli as a kind of communicative social signal was affected by fasting. Also, fasting improved the mood of practitioners. Moreover, findings from the behavioral and event-related potential data analyses indicated that the neural dynamics of facial emotion are processed faster than that of gazing, as the participants tended to react faster and prefer to relay on the type of facial emotions than to gaze direction while doing the task. Because of happy facial expression stimuli, right hemisphere activation was more than that of the left hemisphere. It indicated the consistency of the emotional lateralization concept rather than the valence concept of emotional processing.

Keywords: fasting, emotion, spatial attention, ERP, hemisphere lateralization

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