Brain potentials in affective picture processing: covariation with autonomic arousal and affective report

Biol Psychol. 2000 Mar;52(2):95-111. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0511(99)00044-7.


Emotionally arousing picture stimuli evoked scalp-recorded event-related potentials. A late, slow positive voltage change was observed, which was significantly larger for affective than neutral stimuli. This positive shift began 200-300 ms after picture onset, reached its maximum amplitude approximately 1 s after picture onset, and was sustained for most of a 6-s picture presentation period. The positive increase was not related to local probability of content type, but was accentuated for pictures that prompted increased autonomic responses and reports of greater affective arousal (e.g. erotic or violent content). These results suggest that the late positive wave indicates a selective processing of emotional stimuli, reflecting the activation of motivational systems in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted