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. 2018 Jul;8(7):e01007.
doi: 10.1002/brb3.1007. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Exposure to Attachment Narratives Dynamically Modulates Cortical Arousal During the Resting State in the Listener

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Free PMC article

Exposure to Attachment Narratives Dynamically Modulates Cortical Arousal During the Resting State in the Listener

Viola Borchardt et al. Brain Behav. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Affective stimulation entails changes in brain network patterns at rest, but it is unknown whether exogenous emotional stimulation has a prolonged effect on the temporal dynamics of endogenous cortical arousal. We therefore investigated differences in cortical arousal in the listener following stimulation with different attachment-related narratives.

Methods: Resting-state EEG was recorded from sixteen healthy subjects for ten minutes each with eyes closed: first at baseline and then after passively listening to three affective narratives from strangers about their early childhood experiences (prototypical for insecure-dismissing, insecure-preoccupied, and secure attachment). Using the VIGALL 2.1 algorithm, low or high vigilance stages in consecutive EEG segments were classified, and their dynamic profile was analyzed. Questionnaires assessed the listeners' emotional response to the content of the narrative.

Results: As a general effect of preceding affective stimulation, vigilance following the stimulation was significantly elevated compared to baseline rest, and carryover effects in dynamic vigilance profiles were observed. A difference between narrative conditions was revealed for the insecure-dismissing condition, in which the decrease in duration of high vigilance stages was fastest compared to the other two conditions. The behavioral data supported the observation that especially the insecure narratives induced a tendency in the listener to affectively disengage from the narrative content.

Discussion: This study revealed carryover effects in endogenous cortical arousal evoked by preceding affective stimulation and provides evidence for attachment-specific dynamic alterations of brain states and individual differences in emotional reactivity.

Keywords: EEG; affective stimulation; attachment; human social interactions; resting state; vigilance.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Experimental design of the study
Figure 2
Figure 2
Behavioral effects of narratives. (a) The participants showed the lowest tendency toward potential social interaction following the dismissing narrative. (b) The dismissing narrative was rated as the least friendly. On each box, the central red mark is the median, the edges of the box are the 25th and 75th percentiles, the whiskers extend to the most extreme data points not considered outliers, and outliers are plotted as red crosses. ** indicates < 0.01, * indicates < 0.05
Figure 3
Figure 3
Temporal evolution of the percentage of subjects in high (red) versus low (blue) vigilance stages per TR at baseline. Linear regressions for both high and low vigilance stages are plotted as black lines
Figure 4
Figure 4
Differences in number of TR time lengths spent in high vigilance stages during the whole EEG timecourse. On each box, the central red mark is the median, the edges of the box are the 25th and 75th percentiles, and the whiskers extend to the most extreme data points not considered outliers. *** indicates < 0.001, ** indicates < 0.01
Figure 5
Figure 5
(a) Linear regressions for the ratio of percentage of subjects in high to low vigilance stages between all resting states. (b) Temporal evolution of the percentage of subjects in high (red) versus low (blue) vigilance stages for each TR following the three narratives: insecure‐dismissing (left), insecure‐preoccupied (middle), and secure (right). Linear regressions for both high and low vigilance stages are plotted as black lines. The coefficients for the intercept and slope of the ANCOVA model equations differed between narrative conditions: insecure‐dismissing: y = 76.1−0.151x+ε; insecure‐preoccupied: y = 68.8−0.077x+ε; secure: y = 69.6−0.074x+ε and revealed significant differences between the slopes of the regression in insecure‐dismissing versus insecure‐preoccupied as well as insecure‐dismissing versus secure

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