Effects of emotional arousal in the cerebral hemispheres: a study of oscillatory brain activity and event-related potentials

Clin Neurophysiol. 2001 Nov;112(11):2057-68. doi: 10.1016/s1388-2457(01)00654-x.


Objective: The present study aimed at examining the time course and topography of oscillatory brain activity and event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to laterally presented affective pictures.

Methods: Electroencephalography was recorded from 129 electrodes in 10 healthy university students during presentation of pictures from the international affective picture system. Frequency measures and ERPs were obtained for pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures.

Results: In accordance with previous reports, a modulation of the late positive ERP wave at parietal recording sites was found as a function of emotional arousal. Early mid gamma band activity (GBA; 30-45 Hz) at 80 ms post-stimulus was enhanced in response to aversive stimuli only, whereas the higher GBA (46-65 Hz) at 500 ms showed an enhancement of arousing, compared to neutral pictures. ERP and late gamma effects showed a pronounced right-hemisphere preponderance, but differed in terms of topographical distribution.

Conclusions: Late gamma activity may represent a correlate of widespread cortical networks processing different aspects of emotionally arousing visual objects. In contrast, differences between affective categories in early gamma activity might reflect fast detection of aversive stimulus features.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manikins
  • Oscillometry
  • Self-Assessment