What hemodynamic (fNIRS), electrophysiological (EEG) and autonomic integrated measures can tell us about emotional processing

Brain Cogn. 2015 Apr;95:67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.02.001. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Due to its fast temporal evolution and its representation and integration among complex and widespread neural networks, the emotion perception process should preferably be examined by means of multimethodological approach. Indeed the indubitable vantage of acquiring both the autonomic (arousal-related) and the central (cortical-related) activities stands in the possibility to better elucidate the reciprocal interplay of the two compartments. In the present study EEG (frequency band analysis), systemic SCR and heart rate (HR) were all recorded simultaneously with hemodynamic (NIRS, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy) measurements as potential biological markers of emotions, related to both central and peripheral systems. These multiple measures were then related to the self-report correlates, that is the subjective appraisal in term of valence (positive vs. negative) and arousal (high vs. low) by using SAM rating. Twenty subjects were submitted to emotional cues processing (IAPS) when fNIRS, frequency bands (alpha, beta, delta, theta), SCR and HR were recorded. As shown by O2Hb increasing within the right hemisphere, the contribution of prefrontal cortex was elucidated, by pointing out a relevant lateralization effect (more right-PFC activity) induced by the specific valence (negative) of the emotional patterns. Secondly, EEG activity (mainly low-frequency theta and delta bands) was intrinsically associated with the cortical hemodynamic responsiveness to the negative emotional patterns, within the right side. Finally SCR increased mainly in response to negative patterns, and the autonomic behavior was related to explicit (SAM) and cortical (NIRS; EEG) activity. The intrinsic relationships between these three different levels are discussed.

Keywords: Appraisal; Emotion; Frequency band; HR; Multimeasure; SCR; fNIRS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult