An Exploratory TMS Study on Prefrontal Lateralization in Valence Categorization of Facial Expressions

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Converging neuroimaging and patient data suggest that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is involved in emotional processing. However, it is still not clear whether the DLPFC in the left and right hemisphere is differentially involved in emotion recognition depending on the emotion considered. Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to shed light on the possible causal role of the left and right DLPFC in encoding valence of positive and negative emotional facial expressions. Participants were required to indicate whether a series of faces displayed a positive or negative expression, while TMS was delivered over the right DLPFC, the left DLPFC, and a control site (vertex). Interfering with activity in both the left and right DLPFC delayed valence categorization (compared to control stimulation) to a similar extent irrespective of emotion type. Overall, we failed to demonstrate any valence-related lateralization in the DLPFC by using TMS. Possible methodological limitations are discussed.

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