Spontaneous EEG activity and spontaneous emotion regulation

Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Dec;94(3):365-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2014.09.003. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Variability in both frontal and parietal spontaneous EEG activity, using α and β band power and θ/β and δ/β ratios, was explored in a sample of 96 healthy volunteers as a potential correlate of individual differences in spontaneous emotion regulation (SER). Following a baseline EEG recording, participants were asked to continuously rate their discomfort while looking at affective pictures, as well as for a period of time after exposure. Greater spontaneous β band power in parietal locations, lower frontal and parietal δ/β ratios, and lower parietal θ/β ratio were associated with lower ratings of discomfort after the offset of unpleasant pictures. Moreover, lower parietal δ/β ratio was also related to less time needed to recover from discomfort after exposure to aversive pictures, while only a greater frontal and parietal α band power appeared to be associated with faster recovery from discomfort induced by normative-neutral pictures. However, parietal δ/β ratio was the only predictor of both minimum discomfort ratings and time needed to downregulate following exposure to unpleasant pictures, and frontal α band power the only spontaneous EEG index that predicted variability in spontaneous down-regulation after the exposure to normative-neutral pictures. Results are discussed focusing on the utility of diverse spontaneous EEG measures in several cortical regions when capturing trait-like individual differences in emotion regulation capabilities and processes.

Keywords: Emotion regulation; Resting EEG; Spontaneous emotion regulation; delta/beta ratio; theta/beta ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult