Spatiotemporal dynamics of affective picture processing revealed by intracranial high-gamma modulations

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Our comprehension of the neural mechanisms underlying emotional information processing has largely benefited from noninvasive electrophysiological and functional neuroimaging techniques in recent years. However, the spatiotemporal dynamics of the neural events occurring during emotional processing remain imprecise due to the limited combination of spatial and temporal resolution provided by these techniques. This study examines the modulations of high-frequency activity of intracranial electroencephalography recordings associated with affective picture valence, in epileptic patients awaiting neurosurgery. Recordings were obtained from subdural grids and depth electrodes in eight patients while they viewed a series of unpleasant, pleasant and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System. Broadband high-gamma (70–150 Hz) power was computed for separate 100-ms time windows and compared according to ratings of emotional valence. Compared to emotionally neutral or pleasant pictures, unpleasant stimuli were associated with an early and long-lasting (≈200–1,000 ms) bilateral increase in high-gamma activity in visual areas of the occipital and temporal lobes, together with a late and transient (≈500–800 ms) decrease found bilaterally in the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). Pleasant pictures were associated with increased gamma activity in the occipital cortex, compared to the emotionally neutral stimuli. Consistent with previous studies, our results provide direct evidence of emotion-related modulations in the visual ventral pathway during picture processing. Results in the lateral PFC also shed light on the neural mechanisms underlying its role in negative emotions processing. This study demonstrates the utility of intracranial high-gamma modulations to study emotional process with a high spatiotemporal precision. Hum Brain Mapp, 36:16–28, 2015.. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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