Neuroimaging Support for Discrete Neural Correlates of Basic Emotions: A Voxel-based Meta-analysis

Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 4.09). 11/2009; 22(12):2864-85. DOI: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21366
Source: PubMed


What is the basic structure of emotional experience and how is it represented in the human brain? One highly influential theory, discrete basic emotions, proposes a limited set of basic emotions such as happiness and fear, which are characterized by unique physiological and neural profiles. Although many studies using diverse methods have linked particular brain structures with specific basic emotions, evidence from individual neuroimaging studies and from neuroimaging meta-analyses has been inconclusive regarding whether basic emotions are associated with both consistent and discriminable regional brain activations. We revisited this question, using activation likelihood estimation (ALE), which allows spatially sensitive, voxelwise statistical comparison of results from multiple studies. In addition, we examined substantially more studies than previous meta-analyses. The ALE meta-analysis yielded results consistent with basic emotion theory. Each of the emotions examined (fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness) was characterized by consistent neural correlates across studies, as defined by reliable correlations with regional brain activations. In addition, the activation patterns associated with each emotion were discrete (discriminable from the other emotions in pairwise contrasts) and overlapped substantially with structure-function correspondences identified using other approaches, providing converging evidence that discrete basic emotions have consistent and discriminable neural correlates. Complementing prior studies that have demonstrated neural correlates for the affective dimensions of arousal and valence, the current meta-analysis results indicate that the key elements of basic emotion views are reflected in neural correlates identified by neuroimaging studies.

Download full-text


Available from: Katherine Vytal,
  • Source
    • "Specifically, the dlPFC and LPC areas mentioned above as part of DES have been associated with the " fronto-parietal " (FPN) or " central-executive " network (Seeley et al. 2007; Dosenbach et al. 2008; Bressler and Menon 2010; Yeo et al. 2011; Power and Petersen 2013). Turning to the VAS regions, the vlPFC is typically considered part of the " salience " (SN) or " ventral-attentional " network (Seeley et al. 2007; Corbetta et al. 2008; Bressler and Menon 2010) and has been associated with both processing of salient information (Seeley et al. 2007; Corbetta et al. 2008; Bressler and Menon 2010) and response inhibition (Aron et al. 2004, 2014; Aron 2007), and affect regulation (Kober et al. 2008; Vytal and Hamann 2010; Ochsner et al. 2012; but see Hampshire et al. 2010). Consistent with these functional associations, empirical evidence from studies of emotional distraction points to vlPFC involvement in both basic emotion processing and coping with distracting emotions (reviewed in Dolcos et al. 2011; Iordan, Dolcos, Dolcos, et al. 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous investigations showed that the impact of negative distraction on cognitive processing is linked to increased activation in a ventral affective system (VAS) and simultaneous deactivation in a dorsal executive system (DES). However, less in known about the influences of positive valence and different arousal levels on these effects. FMRI data were recorded while participants performed a working memory (WM) task, with positive and negative pictures presented as distracters during the delay between the memoranda and probes. First, positive distraction had reduced impact on WM performance, compared to negative distraction. Second, fMRI results identified valence-specific effects in DES regions and overlapping arousal and valence effects in VAS regions, suggesting increased impact of negative distraction and enhanced engagement of coping mechanisms for positive distraction. Third, a valence-related rostro-caudal dissociation was identified in medial frontal regions associated with the default-mode network (DMN). Finally, these DMN regions showed increased functional connectivity with DES regions for negative compared to positive distraction. Overall, these findings suggest that, while both positive and negative distraction engage partly similar arousal-dependent mechanisms, their differential impact on WM performance is linked to dissociations in the engagement of, and coupling between, regions associated with emotion processing and higher-lever cognitive control.
    Cerebral Cortex 11/2015; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhv242 · 8.67 Impact Factor
    • "We argue that paradigms in which participants are instructed to reinterpret a stimulus " top-down " are in fact evoking a reconceptualization of the sensory information present in that particular situation. Moreover, regions involved in emotion regulation (Buhle et al. 2013; Diekhof et al. 2011) are also commonly involved during emotion experience (Lindquist et al. 2012; Vytal & Hamann, 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Negative stimuli do not only evoke fear or disgust, but can also evoke a state of "morbid fascination" which is an urge to approach and explore a negative stimulus. In the present neuroimaging study, we applied an innovative method to investigate the neural systems involved in typical and atypical conceptualizations of negative images. Participants received false feedback labeling their mental experience as fear, disgust or morbid fascination. This manipulation was successful; participants judged the false feedback correct for 70% of the trials on average. The neuroimaging results demonstrated differential activity within regions in the 'neural reference space for discrete emotion' depending on the type of feedback. We found robust differences in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex comparing morbid fascination to control feedback. More subtle differences in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex were also found between morbid fascination feedback and the other emotion feedback conditions. The present study is the first to forward evidence about the neural representation of the experimentally unexplored state of morbid fascination. In line with a constructionist framework, our findings suggest that neural resources associated with the process of conceptualization contribute to the neural representation of this state. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email:
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 07/2015; DOI:10.1093/scan/nsv088 · 7.37 Impact Factor
    • "For the central nervous system, several neuroanatomical structures are known to be involved in the processing of affective information, such as amygdala and the limbic system, orbitofrontal and medial-prefrontal cortices (see Barrett et al., 2007). Despite the long-standing debate about their specific involvement (with constructivists (Lindquist and Barrett, 2012) versus localist (Vytal and Hamann, 2010) positions as extreme poles), there is a long line of research showing the accessibility of affective states from neurophysiological measurements. Especially for electroencephalography (EEG), measuring the electrical potentials from the brain, several characteristics of brain activity have been found sensitive to emotional stimulation and states. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Physiological and affective computing propose methods to improve human–machine interactions by adapting machines to the users’ states. Recently, social signal processing (SSP) has proposed to apply similar methods to human–human interactions with the hope of better understanding and modeling social interactions. Most of the social signals employed are facial expressions, body movements and speech, but studies using physiological signals remain scarce. In this paper, we motivate the use of physiological signals in the context of social interactions. Specifically, we review studies which have investigated the relationship between various physiological indices and social interactions. We then propose two main directions to apply physiological SSP: using physiological signals of individual users as new social cues displayed in the group and using inter-user physiology to measure properties of the interactions such as conflict and social presence. We conclude that physiological measures have the potential to enhance social interactions and to connect people.
    Interacting with Computers 04/2015; 27(5). DOI:10.1093/iwc/iwv013 · 1.27 Impact Factor
Show more