Hand and finger postures of other people are important body language cues that strongly contribute to the observer's decision about the person's intentions, thoughts, and attentional state. We compared neuromagnetic cortical activation elicited by color images of natural and distorted finger postures. The distorted postures contained computer-deformed joint angles and thereby easily caught the observer's attention. From about 260 msec onwards, extrastriate occipital areas of both hemispheres were activated more strongly by distorted than natural finger postures. We interpret this result as an early topdown effect of emotional valence on the processing of unusual hand shapes in the extrastriate visual cortex.

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