The Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Cortical Emotion Processing in Different Brain Frequencies as Assessed Using the Cluster-Based Permutation Test: An MEG Study

Brain Sci. 2020 Jun 6;10(6):E352. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10060352.


The processing of emotions in the human brain is an extremely complex process that extends across a large number of brain areas and various temporal processing steps. In the case of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data, various frequency bands also contribute differently. Therefore, in most studies, the analysis of emotional processing has to be limited to specific sub-aspects. Here, we demonstrated that these problems can be overcome by using a nonparametric statistical test called the cluster-based permutation test (CBPT). To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to apply the CBPT to MEG data of brain responses to emotional stimuli. For this purpose, different emotionally impacting (pleasant and unpleasant) and neutral pictures were presented to 17 healthy subjects. The CBPT was applied to the power spectra of five brain frequencies, comparing responses to emotional versus neutral stimuli over entire MEG channels and time intervals within 1500 ms post-stimulus. Our results showed significant clusters in different frequency bands, and agreed well with many previous emotion studies. However, the use of the CBPT allowed us to easily include large numbers of MEG channels, wide frequency, and long time-ranges in one study, which is a more reliable alternative to other studies that consider only specific sub-aspects.

Keywords: MEG; alpha; beta; cluster-based permutation test; delta; emotion; gamma; theta.