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Enhancement of neural activity of the primary visual cortex during processing of emotional stimuli as measured with event-related functional near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)

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In this study we investigated whether event-related near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is suitable to measure changes in brain activation of the occipital cortex modulated by the emotional content of the visual stimuli. As we found in a previous pilot study that only positive but not negative stimuli differ from neutral stimuli (with respect to oxygenated haemoglobin), we now measured the event-related EEG potentials and NIRS simultaneously during the same session. Thereby, we could evaluate whether the subjects (n = 16) processed the positive as well as the negative emotional stimuli in a similar way. During the task, the subjects passively viewed positive, negative, and neutral emotional pictures (40 presentations were shown in each category, and pictures were taken from the International Affective Picture System, IAPS). The stimuli were presented for 3 s in a randomized order (with a mean of 3 s interstimulus interval). During the task, we measured the event-related EEG potentials over the electrode positions O1, Oz, O2, and Pz and the changes of oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin by multichannel NIRS over the occipital cortex. The EEG results clearly show an increased early posterior negativity over the occipital cortex for both positive as well as negative stimuli compared to neutral. The results for the NIRS measurement were less clear. Although positive as well as negative stimuli lead to significantly higher decrease in deoxygenated haemoglobin than neutral stimuli, this was not found for the oxygenated haemoglobin.
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Enhancement of Activity of the Primary Visual
Cortex During Processing of Emotional Stimuli as
Measured With Event-Related Functional Near-
Infrared Spectroscopy and Event-Related Potentials
Martin J. Herrmann,
1,2,3
*Theresa Huter,
1,3
Michael M. Plichta,
1
Ann-Christine Ehlis,
1
Georg W. Alpers,
2
Andreas Mu
¨hlberger,
2
and Andreas J. Fallgatter
1
1
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Wu
¨rzburg, Wu
¨rzburg, Germany
2
Department of Psychology, University of Wu
¨rzburg, Wu
¨rzburg, Germany
3
Department of Genomic Imaging, University of Wu
¨rzburg, Wu
¨rzburg, Germany
Abstract: In this study we investigated whether event-related near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is suita-
ble to measure changes in brain activation of the occipital cortex modulated by the emotional content of
the visual stimuli. As we found in a previous pilot study that only positive but not negative stimuli differ
from neutral stimuli (with respect to oxygenated haemoglobin), we now measured the event-related EEG
potentials and NIRS simultaneously during the same session. Thereby, we could evaluate whether the
subjects (n¼16) processed the positive as well as the negative emotional stimuli in a similar way. During
the task, the subjects passively viewed positive, negative, and neutral emotional pictures (40 presentations
were shown in each category, and pictures were taken from the International Affective Picture System,
IAPS). The stimuli were presented for 3 s in a randomized order (with a mean of 3 s interstimulus inter-
val). During the task, we measured the event-related EEG potentials over the electrode positions O1, Oz,
O2, and Pz and the changes of oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin by multichannel NIRS over
the occipital cortex. The EEG results clearly show an increased early posterior negativity over the occipital
cortex for both positive as well as negative stimuli compared to neutral. The results for the NIRS measure-
ment were less clear. Although positive as well as negative stimuli lead to significantly higher decrease in
deoxygenated haemoglobin than neutral stimuli, this was not found for the oxygenated haemoglobin.
Hum Brain Mapp 29:28–35, 2008. V
V
C2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Key words: emotion; NIRS; optical topography; EPN
INTRODUCTION
The functional neuroanatomy of emotion has been
widely examined e.g. using the blood oxygen level-de-
pendent functional magnetic resonance imaging [Davis
and Whalen, 2001; Pessoa et al., 2002; Phan et al., 2002].
This research approach revealed that the processing of
emotional in comparison to neutral visual stimuli leads to
an increased activation of various cortical areas, including
the amygdala, the medial prefrontal cortex, and, in-
terestingly, also sensory areas such as the visual cortex
Contract grant sponsor: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Con-
tract grant numbers: KFO 125/1-1.
*Correspondence to: Martin Herrmann, Genomic Imaging and
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Fuechsleinstr. 15,
97080 Wuerzburg, Germany.
E-mail: Herrmann_M@klinik.uni-wuerzburg.de
Received for publication 3 April 2006; Revision 4 September 2006;
Accepted 21 November 2006
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20368
Published online 21 February 2007 in Wiley InterScience (www.
interscience.wiley.com).
V
V
C2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
rHuman Brain Mapping 29:28–35 (2008) r
[Jungho
¨fer et al., 2001; Phan et al., 2002]. Moreover, it was
shown that emotional arousal modulates the amplitudes of
the event-related potentials (ERPs) at two time windows.
As early as 240 ms after the stimulus presentation, an early
posterior negativity (EPN) for emotional compared to neu-
tral visual stimuli was localized over the occipital cortex
[Schupp et al., 2003]. It was argued that this EPN reflects
facilitated sensory encoding of affective stimuli by natu-
rally occurring selective attention. Additionally, a second
effect starts approximately 300 ms after the stimulus pre-
sentation over the parietal cortex, with more positive
amplitudes to emotional in comparison to neutral stimuli
(slow wave, SW) [Cuthbert et al., 2000; Schupp et al.,
2000]. This effect is considered to index postsensory
(higher-order) stages of stimulus evaluation. Altogether
there is evidence that emotional stimuli, positive as well as
negative, lead to an increased activation of the occipital
cortex.
This activation can be theoretically explained by the evo-
lutionary need to quickly detect potentially meaningful
stimuli [Ohman and Mineka, 2001]. The amygdala that is
central to emotional processing has been speculated to
prime and modulate primary visual circuits [Davis and
Whalen, 2001; LeDoux, 1998]. Indeed, feedback loops from
brain regions such as the amygdala [Amaral et al., 1992] or
the anterior cingulate [Posner and Raichle, 1995] to visual
areas have been documented. We have previously shown
that this can boost the dominance of emotional pictures
over neutral pictures [Alpers and Pauli, 2006; Alpers et al.,
2005b].
A possible explanation may be natural selective attention
[Lang, 1997]. Individuals are more likely to attend to stim-
uli of evolutionary importance than to others and situa-
tions with an emotional content outrank neutral situations.
Natural selective attention led to a stronger activation of
the occipital cortex while viewing emotional pictures than
neutral pictures [Lang et al., 1998]. Furthermore, the emo-
tional content of pictures seems to enhance not only brain
activity but also the recognition of emotional pictures
[Abrisqueta-Gomez et al., 2002; Dolcos and Cabeza, 2002].
Recently near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), a method
using light of the infrared spectrum, has been introduced
to investigate changes of cerebral oxygenation. NIRS is
based on the facts that (1) light of the near infrared spec-
trum can penetrate biological tissue and (2) the changes in
the absorbed near infrared light over a task can be
ascribed to changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated hae-
moglobin concentrations (for a more detailed description
of the methods see [Hoshi, 2003; Obrig and Villringer,
2003]. The correspondence between neural activity and
changes in oxygenation can be described as follows: Re-
gional brain activation leads to an increasing metabolism,
which is followed by an increased regional cerebral blood
flow (rCBF). It has been well documented that the
increased rCBF exceeds the oxygenation demand of the tis-
sue, which leads to increased [O
2
Hb] and to decreased
[HHb] as a sign of activation [Fox and Raichle, 1986]. The
changes in [O
2
HB] are typically more prominent than
those in [HHb], with higher changes in amplitudes as well
as larger involved brain areas. It was argued that changes
in [O
2
Hb] are under a stronger influence of arterial com-
partments in contrast to [HHb], which comes mostly from
the venous compartments [Franceschini et al., 2003]. There-
fore, [O
2
Hb] might be more under the influence of sys-
temic contributions like heart rate and thus represent a
less localized activation than [HHb] maps. In recent years,
NIRS has been used to measure changes in brain oxygen-
ation due to cognitive tasks [Herrmann et al., 2005; Horo-
vitz and Gore, 2004; Schroeter et al., 2002; Strangman
et al., 2002] but to a lesser extent during emotional tasks
[Herrmann et al., 2003].
The aim of this study was to evaluate whether NIRS is
suitable to measure changes in brain activation of the occi-
pital cortex modulated by the emotional content of the vis-
ual stimuli. In a first pilot study [Alpers et al., 2005a] we
used a block design with positive, negative, and neutral
pictures from the International Affective Picture System
(IAPS) [Lang et al., 1999], which were passively viewed by
the individuals. In this study, we found increased brain
activation over the occipital cortex to the visual stimuli but
the emotional modulation was less clear. The effects were
rather small and significantly only for higher [O
2
Hb] for
the positive but not for the negative stimuli in comparison
to neutral stimuli. In the current study we used the same
IAPS pictures but presented them in a randomized order
to exclude any effects caused by expectancies of the sub-
jects. To include a second parameter for emotional process-
ing, we additionally measured the event-related EEG
potentials to the stimuli parallel to the NIRS measurement.
The signals of NIRS and EEG do not influence each other
and therefore a combination is possible [Ehlis et al., sub-
mitted; Horovitz and Gore, 2004] Here we measured both
the EEG and NIRS over the same brain areas (the occipital
cortex) with the EEG electrodes always placed in between
a light emitter and a light detector.
METHODS
Participants
Sixteen healthy volunteers (11 women), age ranging
from 21 to 30 years (mean age 24.2 62.4 years), partici-
pated after written informed consent was obtained. All
participants had corrected-to-normal vision and all except
one were right handed. None of them took psychoactive
medication.
Stimulus Material
One hundred and twenty pictures were selected on the
basis of their normative valence and arousal from the
IAPS, a collection of standardized photographic material
[Lang et al., 1999]. Forty of these are positive and in high
arousal, 40 negative and in high arousal, and 40 neutral
rEmotional Modulation of Primary Visual Cortex Activity r
r29 r
and in low arousal. Each picture was shown for 3 s on a
black screen located 100 cm in front of the subject in a
shaded room. Additionally, there were 40 null events
showing a black screen for 3 s. A variable interstimulus
interval (ISI) of 2–4 s appeared between the pictures. The
task of the participants was to simply view the sequen-
tially presented images; no response was required. The
sequence of the pictures and the null events was random-
ized. ERP and NIRS data were recorded for a total of 160
trials lasting 30 min.
EEG Recording
The EEG was recorded from four scalp electrodes posi-
tioned according to the international 10–20 system at the
positions O1, O2, Oz, and Pz. An electrode between Fpz
and Fz was connected to the ground, and a further elec-
trode at the root of the nose was used as the recording ref-
erence. Three additional channels recorded the electroocu-
logram from the outer canthi of both eyes and below the
right eye to monitor eye blinks. The EEG was sampled
continuously at a rate of 1000 Hz with a bandpass from
0.1 to 70 Hz. Impedances were kept at 5 kOor below.
Epochs (200 ms before stimulus onset to 800 ms) with
amplitudes or with a voltage step exceeding 6100 mV
were excluded from further analyses. The artifact-free tri-
als (at least 20 epochs) were averaged separately for each
subject and condition. Data were filtered offline with a
bandpass from 1 to 15 Hz. A baseline correction with the
baseline between 200 ms and stimulus onset was calcu-
lated.
For the EPN we calculated the mean amplitudes in the
time window between 250 and 350 ms for all three condi-
tions. The SW was determined by peak detection between
420 and 600 ms for every single subject and condition. The
EEG-data of one participant could not be analyzed due to
data loss. EEG data were analyzed using ANOVAs for
repeated measures with the within-subjects factors elec-
trode (O1/O2/Oz/Pz) and condition (positive/negative/
neutral) using SPSS 13.0.
NIRS Recording
NIRS-measurement was performed with a continuous
wave system (ETG-4000, Hitachi Medical, Japan) with a 3
5 optode probe set (consisting of 7 photodetectors and 8
light emitters, resulting in a total of 22 channels). The probe
set was placed on the occipital cortex with channel 15
placed above electrode O1, channel 16 placed above elec-
trode Oz, and channel 17 placed above electrode O2 (Fig. 3).
Two different wavelengths (695 620 nm and 830 620 nm)
are used by the system, and its frequency is modulated for
wavelengths and channels to prevent crosstalk. Reflected
light (not absorbed) leaving the tissue is received by the
photodetectors and transmitted into a set of lock-in ampli-
fiers that are limited to the particular frequencies of interest.
Both wavelengths are used to solve the modified Beer-
Lambert equation for highly scattering tissue that allows
estimating changes in [HHb] and [O
2
Hb] based on the
measurements. Since continuous wave systems cannot mea-
sure the optical path length [Hoshi, 2003] the scale unit is
the molar concentration multiplied by the unknown path
length (mmol mm). The interoptode distance was 30 mm,
which results in measuring approximately 15 mm [Okada
and Delpy, 2003] to 25 mm [Hoshi et al., 2006] beneath the
scalp. Although the exact extent of the brain region exam-
ined by each set of NIRS probes cannot be determined, the
region examined is thought to be a banana-shaped region
between the two optodes, with a depth of 0.9–1.3 cm from
the brain surface [Koizumi et al., 1999; Villringer et al.,
1997]. Sampling rate was set to 10 Hz.
NIRS Data Analysis
The data were analyzed as described before [Plichta
et al., 2006]. To remove baseline drifts and pulsation due
to heartbeat, the raw data were preprocessed by a high-
pass filter of 0.02 Hz. The preprocessed data were then an-
alyzed by the two-stage ordinary least squares (OLS) esti-
mation methodology according to the general linear
model. A Gauss function was used for the haemodynamic
response function (HRF). At the single subject level, we
included the first and second temporal derivative of HRF
in order to modulate the onset as well as the dispersion of
the HRF. A dfunction indicating the onset of sensory stim-
ulation was convolved with the predictors for each condi-
tion. Thereafter, the first-stage OLS estimation was per-
formed. We corrected our analyses for serial, correlated
errors by fitting a first-order autoregressive process to the
error term by the Cochrane-Orcutt procedure [Cochrane
and Orcutt, 1949]. Finally, the bweights were re-estimated
(second stage) and tested for statistical significance by one-
sided ttests (single subject level). To improve the power
in the event-related design with short ISI, we included
null events, which serve as a contrast condition. Therefore,
we calculated the differences between the bweights of our
active conditions (positive, negative, and neutral) and the
contrast condition (null event). These differences were
now considered as an index of activation and were tested
against zero, or they were tested for differences between
conditions (one-sided ttests). For both single subject and
group level, significant cortical activation is indicated by
positive tvalues for [O
2
Hb] and by negative t-values for
[HHb]. For one-sided t-tests, tvalues above 1.65 indicate
an aof 5%, and tvalues above 2.33 indicate aof 1%. To
account for multiple testing, all statistical inferences are
based on an adjusted alpha level of 5%. Tvalues over 2.84
indicate Bonferroni’s adjusted aof 5% for 22 single tests
(one test for each channel).
Joined EEG-NIRS Analysis
To additionally examine the associations between the
EEG and NIRS in a more direct way, we chose the
rHerrmann et al. r
r30 r
approach described by Eichele et al. [2005]. Within this
approach we tried to predict the haemodynamic responses
by the paradigm-induced amplitude modulation of the
simultaneously acquired single trial ERPs. A first stimulus
function was defined encoding the stimulus onset, irre-
spective of the condition of the stimulus. A second stimu-
lus function encoded the onsets of the null events. Two
additional stimulus functions encoded the amplitude of
the single trial EPNs, one stimulus function for the posi-
tive and one for the negative condition. To get the single
trial EPNs we calculated in a first step the mean EEG
amplitudes for every single trial in the time window
between 250 and 350 ms after stimulus presentation for all
three conditions over the electrode position Oz. As the
investigated EPN is calculated as the difference between
emotional and neutral condition, we subtracted the mean
ERP amplitudes for the neutral condition over all trials
from the single trial amplitudes for the emotional condi-
tion. The stimulus functions were decorrelated (Schmidt-
Gram orthogonalization) from each other, ensuring that
activation related to the amplitude modulated stimulus
functions was specific to the electrophysiological measure
and not to some general feature in the evoked response to
the pictures. Using these stimulus functions four regres-
sors were formed by convolving the stimulus function
with the HRF (a gauss function). All further analyze steps
were the same as described above.
RESULTS
ERP Results
For the EPN (Fig. 1) we found the main effects ‘‘Electrode’
(F[1.6;21.8] ¼33.7, P<0.001), and ‘‘Condition’’ (F[1.6;22.4] ¼
5.2, P<0.05), as well as an interaction effect ‘‘Electrode
Condition’’ (F[2.5;34.3] ¼3.8, P<0.05). Differences between
conditions were found for all electrode positions (O1:
F[1.5;21.5] ¼5.1, P<0.05; O2: F[1.7;24.1] ¼4.6, P<0.05; Oz:
Figure 1.
Displayed are the grand-mean event-related potentials over all subjects for the three conditions
(positive, negative and neutral (thin line) stimuli) over the three electrode positions O1, O2, and Pz.
rEmotional Modulation of Primary Visual Cortex Activity r
r31 r
F[1.6;22.8] ¼5.3, P<0.05; Pz: F[1.6;22.9] ¼5.7, P<0.05). For
all of these positions, we found significantly higher ampli-
tudes in the neutral than the positive and negative conditions
(all tvalues >2.1), without any significant differences
between positive and negative condition. We calculated the
EPN as the difference between neutral and positive and neu-
tral and negative condition. The EPN amplitude did not dif-
ferforthefourelectrodepositions(allP>0.1, t<1.68). The
EPN in the positive condition also did not differ from the
EPN in the negative condition (all P>0.2, t<1.34).
For the SW amplitudes we found a significant main
effect ‘‘Electrode’’ (F[1.9,26.42] ¼14.8, P¼0.001) and a sig-
nificant interaction ‘‘Electrode Condition’’ (F[1.9,26.0] ¼
7.5, P<0.01), but no significant effect ‘‘Condition’
(F[1.9,27.1] ¼2.1, P¼0.15). Post hoc analyses revealed
that conditions did not differ with respect to amplitudes
for the electrode position (O1, O2, Oz, all t<1.2) but only
for Pz (F[2,28] ¼9.4, P<0.001). For Pz we found signifi-
cantly higher amplitudes to negative (t[14] ¼4.1, P<
0.001) and positive pictures (t[14] ¼3.5, P<0.01) com-
pared to the neutral pictures.
NIRS Results
As expected, negative, positive, and neutral stimuli lead
to a significant (t>2.84) increase in [O
2
Hb] and corre-
sponding decrease in [HHb] within the occipital cortex
(Figs. 2, 3 and 4). The increase of [O
2
Hb] was significant in
11 of 22 channels for negative pictures (channel nos. 5, 6,
10 to 15, 17, and 18), in 18 channels for positive pictures
(no. 5 to no. 22) and in 13 channels for neutral pictures
(nos. 5, 6, 8 to 15, 17, 18, and 20).
The decrease in [HHb] in the same cortical regions
reached a significant level (t>2.84) in 16 channels for pos-
itive pictures (nos. 5, 6, 8 to 17, 19 to 22), in 18 channels
for negative pictures (no. 5 to no. 22), and in 15 channels
for neutral pictures (nos. 5, 6, 8 to 15, 17 to 20, 22).
We found significant (t>2.84) differences of [O
2
Hb]
between the positive and the neutral condition but not
between the negative and the neutral condition. In detail, in
19 channels we measured significantly higher [O
2
Hb] values
for positive in comparison to neutral stimuli (nos. 1, 4 to 22,
all t>2.84) but in no channel for the negative versus neu-
tral comparison (all t<1.0). In contrast to this, for [HHB]
we found that the decrease was significantly (t<2.84)
larger in the emotional condition compared to the neutral
condition in 4 channels for the negative (nos. 9, 16, 20, and
21) and in one channel for positive pictures (no. 21, and in 4
additional channels we found corresponding trends: channel
nos. 10, 12, and 13 had tvalues <2.54).
Joined EEG-NIRS Analysis
With the above described joined EEG-NIRS analysis we
did not find any significant associations between the am-
Figure 3.
Changes in deoxygenated haemoglobin to emotional and neutral
stimuli. Displayed are the statistical maps for deoxygenated hae-
moglobin for the second level group analyses. On the left side
the activation maps for the three conditions are displayed with
the corresponding t-value scale on the left side. On the top of
the right side we displayed the arrangement of the measured
channels. In the middle and lower right side the statistical maps
for the contrasts (middle: negative versus neutral; lower: positive
versus neutral) and the corresponding t-value scale are shown.
Figure 2.
Changes in oxygenated haemoglobin to emotional and neutral stim-
uli. Displayed are the statistical maps for oxygenated haemoglobin
for the second level group analyses. On the left side the activation
maps for the three conditions are displayed with the corresponding
t-value scale on the left side. On the top of the right side we dis-
played the arrangement of the measured channels. In the middle and
lower right side the statistical maps for the contrasts (middle: nega-
tive versus neutral; lower: positive versus neutral) and the corre-
sponding t-value scale are displayed.
rHerrmann et al. r
r32 r
plitude modulated stimulus functions and the changes in
oxygenated or deoxygenated haemoglobin. Only the stimu-
lus function encoding the onsets of the stimuli revealed
the same cortical areas over the occipital cortex to be acti-
vated as in the standard analysis described above.
DISCUSSION
In this study, we found a very clear pattern of activation
over the occipital cortex, with an increase in [O
2
Hb] and a
corresponding decrease in [HHb] during visual stimula-
tion. The centers of activation were located in the middle
of the probe set with two clear hotspots over the left and
right hemisphere. The pattern of activation was very simi-
lar to the activation pattern seen from a simple visual
stimulation using a checker board [Plichta et al., 2006].
Therefore, we can conclude that our paradigm of visually
presenting emotional stimuli leads to an activation of the
occipital cortex.
As a main result of this study, we found a modulation
of cerebral oxygenation of the occipital cortex due to the
emotional content of the presented visual stimuli. The
decrease of [HHB] during picture processing was larger
for positive as well as negative stimuli compared to neu-
tral stimuli in regional specific areas over the occipital cor-
tex. For the first time using simultaneous NIRS and EEG
recording, results underscore that emotional stimuli
increase the activity of the occipital cortex. This may due
to natural selective attention occurring while viewing pic-
tures with an emotional content [Lang, 1997; Lang et al.,
1998]. Emotional pictures are not only more interesting but
also evolutionary more important and so it is more likely
to attend to this kind of stimuli [Geday et al., 2003]. It has
to be noted that channel no. 21, in which this modulation
reached its maximum, was not in the hot spot of activation
due to picture processing, but placed in the middle
between both hot spots. This result indicates that the emo-
tional content of pictures influences the brain activity to a
maximum at slightly different areas than the hot spots. For
the positive pictures, we found three additional channels
only reaching up to a tendency, which were indeed
located exactly over the hot spots (channels nos. 10, 12,
and 13).
These NIRS results are in line with the ERPs derived
from the simultaneously measured EEG. ERPs clearly indi-
cated that both, positive as well as negative stimuli, led to
an increased activity over the occipital cortex. The ampli-
tudes to positive and negative stimuli were not as positive
(and therefore in the difference to the neutral stimuli more
negative) as those to neutral stimuli as early as 240 ms af-
ter stimulus onset. No differences in the amplitudes
between positive and negative stimuli were found. With
regard to the SW potential over Pz starting at 350 ms, we
only found differences between positive and negative pic-
tures in comparison to neutral (with higher positive ampli-
tudes for emotional pictures) but no differences between
positive and negative stimuli. The EEG results were in line
Figure 4.
Mean and standard deviations of beta weights for the single channels. Displayed are the mean values
and standard deviations of the beta weights (by the linear regression analyses) for the three condi-
tions for each channel for oxygenated (upper) and deoxygenated (lower) haemoglobin.
rEmotional Modulation of Primary Visual Cortex Activity r
r33 r
with previous studies [Cuthbert et al., 2000; Schupp et al.,
2000, 2003], although the components looked slightly dif-
ferent, due to the reference position being at the tip of the
nose in this experiment.
An alternative interpretation for the modulation of the
occipital activation could be that possibly neutral stimuli
were visually less complex than the emotional stimuli. If
that would be the case, the changes in activation might be
due to the differences in visual complexity of the stimuli.
A recent study showed that this is not the case [Jungho
¨fer
et al., 2001]. The ERPs reflecting the processing of the emo-
tional content of IAPS pictures were independent of formal
visual properties of the stimuli like complexity.
In contrast to the similar results for positive and nega-
tive stimuli for [HHB], we had divergent findings for
[O
2
Hb]. Although the increase in [O
2
Hb] over the occipital
cortex was similar to the decrease of [HHb], the modula-
tion of this increase due to the emotional content was only
significant for positive, but not for negative pictures; we
found this to be similar to our pilot study [Alpers et al.,
2005a]. In the present study we could ensure that the sub-
jects processed stimuli of both conditions in a similar way,
due to the results of the ERPs. As we found a modulation
of the decrease of [HHb] for both conditions, we also
could assume that positive and negative stimuli did not
influence the cortical activity in different areas of the occi-
pital cortex. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the regions
influenced by negative stimuli are localized deeper in the
visual cortex, which might cause an inability to measure it
with NIRS. One possible explanation might be that looking
at positive and negative stimuli changes systemic variables
in different ways. For example, it has been shown that
negative pictures significantly decrease heart rate com-
pared to neutral and positive pictures, and additionally
that positive pictures lead to an increase of systolic and di-
astolic blood pressure compared to neutral and negative
stimuli [Hempel et al., 2005; Sarlo et al., 2005]. As it has
been shown that heart rate and blood pressure correlate
with [O
2
Hb] but not with [HHb] [Mehagnoul Schipper
et al., 2000], it might be that the divergent findings for
[O
2
Hb] are caused by systemic variables. This means that
a possibly decreased heart rate during negative picture
processing reduces the increase of [O
2
Hb] compared to the
neutral and positive condition, but does not influence the
[HHb] effects. As we did not measure heart rate and blood
pressure, this interpretation is still speculative, but it
should be considered in further research.
The joined EEG-NIRS analysis did not reveal any signifi-
cant linear associations between the single trial ERP ampli-
tudes and the haemodynamic responses, although this
approach has been shown before to be successful [Eichele
et al., 2005]. One explanation might be a methodological
issue of our study design. We used very short stimulus
onset intervals of 5–7 s. The power to detect significant
activation within this design was increased by using null
events (to be able to calculate contrasts). This approach
was not possible for the amplitude modulated stimulus
function, but only for the stimulus function encoding the
stimulus onset (or in the first analysis). A second problem
might be that we have to calculate the difference of the
amplitudes between the emotional conditions and the neu-
tral condition to get the EPN. Therefore, the EEG ampli-
tudes used to predict the haemodynamic responses were
modulated not only by the single trial EEG response but
also by the mean EEG response to the neutral stimuli.
Summing up, in this study we found indications for
increased activation of the occipital cortex due to emo-
tional stimulus processing, as indicated by ERPs as well as
by a larger decrease of [HHb] measured with event-related
NIRS. In the future, it might be possible to use NIRS as a
noninvasive and little constraining technology to investi-
gate the haemodynamic responses during the processing
of emotional stimuli, which might be helpful in investigat-
ing the processing of disorder specific visual cues in emo-
tional disorders such as anxiety or addiction.
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... However, fNIRS has a number of advantages when compared to fMRI. fNIRS possesses a higher temporal resolution than fMRI and importantly can be easily combined with other neuroimaging techniques including electroencephalography (EEG; Herrmann et al., 2008). The combination of fNIRS and EEG allows the investigation of hemodynamic and electrophysiological changes simultaneously. ...
... Whilst NIRS does have limitations in comparison to other neuroimaging techniques, including its poor temporal resolution compared to electroencephalography (EEG) and poor spatial resolution compared to fMRI, it also offers numerous advantages. NIRS is easily combined with other neuroimaging techniques including EEG (Herrmann et al., 2008) and has a higher temporal resolution than fMRI. Additionally, NIRS can reduce the discomfort to participants, make data collection from larger sample sizes more feasible, and individuals with non-removable metal objects in their body or who have tattoos are not excluded. ...
... EEG signals, each band corresponds to specific characteristics. The theta band (4-8 Hz) is related to emotional information [19]; the alpha band (8-13 Hz) is related to cognitive processing [20]; the beta band (13)(14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)(28)(29)(30) to logical thinking and to stimulation effects [21]; while the gamma band (over 30 Hz) is related to memory, linguistic processing, cognition and attention [22]. Electrodes is labelled with a letter and a number. ...
... Another study were used F3 and F4 position to measure the motor imagery tasks involve imagination of movement [28]. The O1 and O2 positions are located above the primary visual cortex [29], and C4 sensory and motor functions. Therefore, to measure cognitive load have been reported as sensitive to task difficulty manipulations alpha and theta bands [30,31]. ...
Chapter
Electroencephalography is proposed as an alternative for evaluating user experience with two interactive systems. Traditionally, evaluation methods are applied either during the interaction, which can disturb the user, or at the end where the user does not usually remember all of their interactions. Therefore, using a BCI (Brain Computer Interface) device as OPEN-BCI as an alternative to evaluate the user experience of a subject while interacts with two interactive systems. In this evaluation were analyzed the sub-bands: alpha, theta and beta. The results show differences in workload and emotions. In addition, consistent analysis of the EEG data, were applied questionnaires, as: SUS, NASA-TLX y SAM, where data showed high consistency.
... Both conceptual and empirical investigation will be required to determine the scope of empathy proper AQ3 ¶ . The consistency of our findings across nearly all stimuli groups and on both the emotional valence and arousal dimensions is notable as the valence and sex of emotional stimuli have been found to influence the brain and behavioral response (Becker et al., 2007;Gross and Schwarzer, 2010;Herrmann et al., 2008;Johansson et al., 2004;Kauschke et al., 2019;Palermo and Coltheart, 2004;Preston & de Waal, 2002;Sokolov et al., 2011;Zeelenberg et al., 2006), and valence and arousal have been found to interact (i.e., highly positive or highly negative stimuli tend to be more emotionally arousing) but are cortically dissociable (Bradley & Lang, 1999;Citron et al., 2014;Colibazzi et al., 2010). Previous studies have found that the gender of the facial stimulus may affect empathic judgment and emotion recognition (Preston & de Waal, 2002;Sokolov et al., 2011). ...
Article
Despite the centrality of empathy in human social life, there is no widely agreed definition or characterization of the concept of empathy. A common thread in many of the proposed definitions, however, is that empathy presupposes the discrimination of self and other on the grounds that, to empathize with another individual, the mental state of the target individual must first be distinguished from the empathizer's own mental state. The purpose of this study is to investigate this proposal empirically. We employed a paradigm in which participants rated the emotional valence and degree of arousal of 93 facial expressions of mental states. We asked participants to infer the mental state represented by each facial expression (the Other condition) as well as to describe the effect of the expression on their own mental state (the Self condition). An absolute difference score between the Other and the Self conditions was used as an index of a capacity for self-other discrimination. Empathy was measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. Results show that individuals high in trait empathy discriminate between self and other to a significantly greater degree when judging mental states than individuals low in trait empathy. This suggests that the capacity for self-other discrimination may be a component of the capacity for empathy and that future investigations of the concept of empathy ought to retain it. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Results from source localization analysis showed that during the time course of P2, the activity in the primary visual cortex (BA 17 in lingual gyrus) and visual association areas (BA 18 in lingual and fusiform gyri) in the occipital lobe were higher when immediacy was present. Results from neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that motivationally salient and affectively valenced stimuli elicit significantly higher activity in the primary and secondary visual cortical areas [52][53][54] . Further, it has recently been shown that such higher activation does not merely indicate enhanced visual processing of affective stimuli, but that the visual system activity encodes affective content of such stimuli in a rich way 55 www.nature.com/scientificreports/ ...
Article
Full-text available
Decision makers tend to give magnified significance to immediately available rewards which leads to intertemporal preference reversals, which is a form of self-control failure. The objective of the present study was to understand the cognitive and neural underpinnings of this phenomenon using event-related potentials (ERP) and their source localization using standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography analysis (sLORETA). Twenty-four participants performed a money choice task, where they made choices between a smaller-sooner and a larger-later reward, which included trials with and without an immediately available option, while their electroencephalography (EEG) activity was recorded. Trials with and without immediacy were identical except that the latter involved a front-end delay added to both the rewards. Results showed that presence of immediacy made the choices significantly more impulsive. Presence of immediate reward elicited larger visual P2 and late positive potential (LPP), indicating enhanced capture of automatic and sustained attention respectively, and smaller N2, indicative of diminished engagement of cognitive control processes. Source localization revealed increased activity in the visual cortex in the presence of immediacy, signifying higher valuation. Higher activation of areas of insula during P2—suggesting increased awareness of visceral signals—predicted larger impulsive preference reversals. The results suggest that presence of immediate reward biases the choice very early during the decision making process by precipitating visceral states that triggers approach behaviour, and highlight the need to adopt strategies like precommitment to counter the effect.
... Overall, emotional salience in the environment, whether attached to specific objects or general contextual information, can modulate sensory processing from the earliest cortical stages. This early modulation is consistent within both the auditory (Kryklywy et al., 2013;Plichta et al., 2011) and visual (Herrmann et al., 2008;Lang et al., 1998;Padmala & Pessoa, 2008) modalities. Proposed mechanisms mediating these effects include reentrant feedback from affect-related structures to sensory cortices (Pessoa & Adolphs, 2010;Pourtois et al., 2013;Vuilleumier, 2005), which indeed account for many of the emotion-sensation interactions observed in humans. ...
Article
There is substantial evidence demonstrating that emotional information influences perception. Yet across studies, findings of how it does so have been highly inconsistent. In particular, emotional context (task-unrelated emotional information in the environment) has a variable influence on spatial perceptual accuracy, sometimes improving and sometimes impairing the ability to localize objects. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the heterogenous nature of emotional influences on target localization is influenced by the specific combination of sensory modalities used in the task. In the present series of experiments, we used a cross-modal localization task to identify how emotional context influences the accuracy of spatial perception. By presenting nonemotional target stimuli alongside emotional nonspatial distractor items (facial expressions or vocalizations), we were able to systematically investigate how emotional stimuli presented to individual sensory modalities acted to modulate spatial perception at distinct stages of perception and action. In three separate experiments, distractor items were presented prior to or during target presentation or after presentation during the localization response. Intramodal emotional distractors influenced localization accuracy when they overlapped in timing with targets, and the direction of this effect was both modality and valence specific (Experiment I). Additionally, targeted contrasts revealed that auditory but not visual emotional distractors influenced localization of visual targets when presented during the behavioral response, with negative cues improving localization accuracy compared to neutral or positive cues (Experiment II). We suggest such effects reflect distinct patterns of unimodal versus multimodal processing in brain regions involved in early versus late stages of perceptual processing. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Moreover, it is specifically hippocampal theta that has been linked to mnemonic binding (Lega et al., 2012;Tesche and Karhu, 2000). Beyond the hippocampus, however, there is also evidence that emotionally arousing stimuli lead to increased occipital activity (Phan et al., 2002;Herrmann et al., 2008), suggesting that emotional stimuli are prioritized already during early visual processing. Furthermore, there is evidence for a functional connection between the amygdala and areas involved in early visual processing (Tamietto, 2012;Amaral et al., 2003) and the effect of emotional stimuli on visual cortex activation is closely related to the amygdala's response (Furl et al., 2013;Morris et al., 2001). ...
Article
Full-text available
Stressful events impact memory formation, in particular for emotionally arousing stimuli. Although these stress effects on emotional memory formation have potentially far-reaching implications, the underlying neural mechanisms are not fully understood. Specifically, the temporal processing dimension of the mechanisms involved in emotional memory formation under stress remains elusive. Here, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine the neural processes underlying stress effects on emotional memory formation with high temporal and spatial resolution and a particular focus on theta oscillations previously implicated in mnemonic binding. Healthy participants (n = 53) underwent a stress or control procedure before encoding emotionally neutral and negative pictures, while MEG was recorded. Memory for the pictures was probed in a recognition test 24 hours after encoding. In this recognition test, stress did not modulate the emotional memory enhancement but led to significantly higher confidence in memory for negative compared to neutral stimuli. Our neural data revealed that stress increased memory-related theta oscillations specifically in medial temporal and occipito-parietal regions. Further, this stress-related increase in theta power emerged during memory formation for emotionally negative but not for neutral stimuli. These findings indicate that acute stress can enhance, in the medial temporal lobe, oscillations at a frequency that is ideally suited to bind the elements of an ongoing emotional episode, which may represent a mechanism to facilitate the storage of emotionally salient events that occurred in the context of a stressful encounter.
Article
Neurovascular coupling is a key physiological mechanism that occurs in the healthy human brain, and understanding this process has implications for understanding the aging and neuropsychiatric populations. Combined electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has emerged as a promising, noninvasive tool for probing neurovascular interactions in humans. However, the utility of this approach critically depends on the methodological quality used for multimodal integration. Despite a growing number of combined EEG–fNIRS applications reported in recent years, the methodological rigor of past studies remains unclear, limiting the accurate interpretation of reported findings and hindering the translational application of this multimodal approach. To fill this knowledge gap, we critically evaluated various methodological aspects of previous combined EEG–fNIRS studies performed in healthy individuals. A literature search was conducted using PubMed and PsycINFO on June 28, 2021. Studies involving concurrent EEG and fNIRS measurements in awake and healthy individuals were selected. After screening and eligibility assessment, 96 studies were included in the methodological evaluation. Specifically, we critically reviewed various aspects of participant sampling, experimental design, signal acquisition, data preprocessing, outcome selection, data analysis, and results presentation reported in these studies. Altogether, we identified several notable strengths and limitations of the existing EEG–fNIRS literature. In light of these limitations and the features of combined EEG–fNIRS, recommendations are made to improve and standardize research practices to facilitate the use of combined EEG–fNIRS when studying healthy neurovascular coupling processes and alterations in neurovascular coupling among various populations.
Chapter
Emotion is central to human daily experience, influencing cognition, perception, and everyday tasks such as learning, communication, and even rational decision‐making. However, the large number of emotion states and the overlaps between the corresponding brain regions make analysis of emotion very challenging for technologists and neuroscience researchers. A hybrid of the somatic and cognitive theories of emotion is the perceptual theory. Skin impedance can be checked using a galvanic skin response sensor. Electromyography is used to measure the muscle activities of the face, neck, and shoulder which are very likely to change due to certain emotions. Study of emotion using electroencephalography has become more attractive due to many algorithms developed by the signal processing community. Direct detection and classification of emotion signal sources are generally complex and advanced methods in signal processing are needed.
Book
This book is composed of a selection of articles from The 2021 World Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (WorldCIST'21), held online between 30 and 31 of March and 1 and 2 of April 2021 at Hangra de Heroismo, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal. WorldCIST is a global forum for researchers and practitioners to present and discuss recent results and innovations, current trends, professional experiences and challenges of modern information systems and technologies research, together with their technological development and applications. The main topics covered are: A) Information and Knowledge Management; B) Organizational Models and Information Systems; C) Software and Systems Modeling; D) Software Systems, Architectures, Applications and Tools; E) Multimedia Systems and Applications; F) Computer Networks, Mobility and Pervasive Systems; G) Intelligent and Decision Support Systems; H) Big Data Analytics and Applications; I) Human–Computer Interaction; J) Ethics, Computers & Security; K) Health Informatics; L) Information Technologies in Education; M) Information Technologies in Radiocommunications; N) Technologies for Biomedical Applications.
Article
An evolved module for fear elicitation and fear learning with 4 characteristics is proposed. (a) The fear module is preferentially activated in aversive contexts by stimuli that are fear relevant in an evolutionary perspective. (b) Its activation to such stimuli is automatic. (c) It is relatively impenetrable to cognitive control. (d) It originates in a dedicated neural circuitry, centered on the amygdala. Evidence supporting these propositions is reviewed from conditioning studies, both in humans and in monkeys; illusory correlation studies; studies using unreportable stimuli; and studies from animal neuroscience. The fear module is assumed to mediate an emotional level of fear learning that is relatively independent and dissociable from cognitive learning of stimulus relationships.
Article
This study used binocular rivalry to examine whether emotionally relevant pictures are processed preferentially in the visual system. Binocular rivalry occurs when two incompatible pictures are presented to both eyes. If the pictures cannot be merged to a single unambiguous percept, binocular rivalry results in an alternation of the two percepts. However, it has been controversial whether emotional picture content can influence a picture's relative predominance. Twenty pairs of emotional and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) were presented to 45 healthy participants. As hypothesised, emotional pictures significantly predominated over neutral pictures, both with respect to the first percept and the total viewing time across each trial. We conclude that the relative predominance of emotional pictures in binocular rivalry provides further support for the preferential processing of emotional stimuli in the visual system.
Article
We point out that autocorrelated error terms require modification of the usual methods of estimation and prediction; and we present evidence showing that the error terms involved in most current formulations of economic relations are highly positively autocorrelated. In doing this we demonstrate that when estimates of autoregressive properties of error terms are based on calculated residuals there is a large bias towards randomness. We demonstrate how much efficiency may be lost by current methods of estimation and prediction; and we give a tentative method of procedure for regaining the lost efficiency.* We wish to express our thanks for the considerable assistance we have received from Richard Stone.
Book
Orienting is the gateway to attention, the first step in processing stimulus information. This volume examines these initial stages of information intake, focusing on the sensory and motivational mechanisms that determine such phenomena as stimulus selection and inhibition, habituation, pre-attentive processing, and expectancy. Psychophysiological methods are emphasized throughout. The contributors consider analyses based on cardiovascular and electrodermal changes, reflex reactions, and neural events in the cortex and subcortex. Stimulated by a conference lauding Frances Graham -- held before and during a recent meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, the book presents current theory and research by an international cadre of outstanding investigators. A major researcher and theorist in the field of attention for more than three decades, Dr. Graham contributes an Afterword to the present volume which is both a consideration of the work which has gone before, and a new, original theory paper on preattentive processing and attention.
Article
Abstract collection from noted conferences on issues in biological psychology, neuropsychology, and psychophysiology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In this study we investigated the changes in brain oxygenation in 22 subjects during a verbal fluency task (VFT) using multichannel near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). To assess topographical effects in more detail we measured over bilateral prefrontal and over the left frontolateral cortex in 11 subjects. We found significantly higher increases in O₂HB, as a sign of cerebral activation, during the VFT compared to a verbal repetition control task over the left prefrontal and the inferior left lateral brain areas. These results underscore the value of NIRS to assess functional brain activation during cognitive tasks. Furthermore, it shows the advantage of multichannel compared to previously used single channel NIRS measurements. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)