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Neuroimage. 2005 Sep;27(3):656-68.

Attention and emotion: does rating emotion alter neural responses to amusing and sad films?

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Department of Psychology, Jordan Hall, Building 420, Stanford, CA 94305-2130, USA.


Functional neuroimaging of affective systems often includes subjective self-report of the affective response. Although self-report provides valuable information regarding participants' affective responses, prior studies have raised the concern that the attentional demands of reporting on affective experience may obscure neural activations reflecting more natural affective responses. In the present study, we used potent emotion-eliciting amusing and sad films, employed a novel method of continuous self-reported rating of emotion experience, and compared the impact of rating with passive viewing of amusing and sad films. Subjective rating of ongoing emotional responses did not decrease either self-reported experience of emotion or neural activations relative to passive viewing in any brain regions. Rating, relative to passive viewing, produced increased activity in anterior cingulate, insula, and several other areas associated with introspection of emotion. These results support the use of continuous emotion measures and emotionally engaging films to study the dynamics of emotional responding and suggest that there may be some contexts in which the attention to emotion induced by reporting emotion experience does not disrupt emotional responding either behaviorally or neurally.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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