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The Kuleshov Effect: the influence of contextual framing on emotional attributions

Mobbs, Dean and Weiskopf, Nikolaus and Lau, Hakwan C. and Featherstone, Eric and Dolan, Ray J. and Frith, Chris D. (2006) The Kuleshov Effect: the influence of contextual framing on emotional attributions. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 1 (2). pp. 95-106. ISSN 1749-5016. PMCID PMC1810228. doi:10.1093/scan/nsl014.

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Filmmakers have long recognized the importance of editing techniques to guide the audiences' perceptions and enhance the impact of a scene. We demonstrate behaviorally that pairing identical faces with either neutral or emotionally salient contextual movies, an editing technique referred to as the ‘Kuleshov Effect’, results in both altered attributions of facial expression and mental-state. Using functional neuroimaging (fMRI), we show that faces paired with emotional movies enhance BOLD responses in the bilateral temporal pole, anterior cingulate cortices, amygdala and bilateral superior temporal sulcus relative to identical faces juxtaposed with neutral movies. An interaction was observed in the right amygdala when subtle happy and fear faces were juxtaposed with positive and negative movies, respectively. An interaction between happy faces and negative context was also observed in bilateral amygdala suggesting that the amygdala may act to prime or tag affective value to faces. A parametric modulation of BOLD signal by attribution ratings indicated a dissociation between ventrolateral and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex for negative and positive contextually evoked attributions, respectively. These prefrontal regions may act to guide appropriate choices across altering contexts. Together, these findings offer a neurobiological basis for contextual framing effects on social attributions.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Dolan, Ray J.0000-0001-9356-761X
Additional Information:© 2006 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Received 23 February 2006; Accepted 10 July 2006; Advance Access Publication 14 August 2006. We thank Klaas Stephan, Predrag Petrovic, Rik Henson, Cindy C. Hagan and Luen Otten for helpful comments on the study design and analysis. This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust. D. Mobbs is supported by Brain Research Trust Prize Studentship. Stimuli were taken from: Tottenham, N., Borscheid, A., Ellersten, K., Markus, D.J., and Nelson, C.A. (2002). Categorization of facial expressions in children and adults: Establishing a larger stimulus set. Poster presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting, San Francisco.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Brain Research TrustUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:fMRI, kuleshov effect, context, affect, mental-state
Issue or Number:2
PubMed Central ID:PMC1810228
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180306-064822158
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Dean Mobbs, Nikolaus Weiskopf, Hakwan C. Lau, Eric Featherstone, Ray J. Dolan, Chris D. Frith; The Kuleshov Effect: the influence of contextual framing on emotional attributions, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 September 2006, Pages 95–106,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:85116
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:06 Mar 2018 22:05
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:25

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