Previous studies have investigated whether uncertainty influences neural responses to emotional events. The findings of such studies, particularly with respect to event-related potentials (ERPs), have been controversial due to several factors, such as the stimuli that serve as cues and the emotional content of the events. However, it is still unknown whether the effects of uncertainty on ERP responses to emotional events are influenced by anticipation patterns (e.g., explicit or implicit anticipation). To address this issue, participants in the present study were presented with anticipatory cues and then emotional (negative and neutral) pictures. The cues either did or did not signify the emotional content of the upcoming picture. In the inter-stimulus intervals between cues and pictures, participants were asked to estimate the expected probability of the occurrence of a specific emotional category of the subsequent picture based on a scale in the explicit anticipation condition, while in the implicit condition, participants were asked to indicate, using a number on a scale, which color was different from the others. The results revealed that in the explicit condition, uncertainty increased late positive potential (LPP) responses, particularly for negative pictures, whereas LPP responses were larger for certain negative pictures than for uncertain negative pictures in the implicit condition. The findings in the present study suggest that the anticipation pattern influences the effects of uncertainty when evaluation of negative events.
Keywords: ERPs; Emotion; Explicit anticipation; Implicit anticipation; Uncertainty.
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