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Neurosci Lett. 2007 Jul 18;422(3):147-52. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

A lasting post-stimulus activation on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is produced when processing valence and arousal in visual affective stimuli.

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Human Neuropsychology Laboratory, School of Psychology, Department of Experimental Psychology, C/Camilo José Cela s/n, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.


This paper introduces a new paradigm in the study of emotional processes through functional neuroimaging. We study whether the valence and arousal of visual stimuli influence neuroimaging of the evoked hemodynamic changes. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), we investigate evoked-cerebral blood oxygenation (CBO) changes in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during direct exposure to different emotion-eliciting stimuli ('on' period), and during the period directly following stimulus cessation ('off' period). We hypothesize that the evoked-CBO, rather than return to baseline after stimulus cessation, would show either overshoot or undershoot. The study includes 30 healthy subjects and a total of 9 stimuli, which consist of video-clips with different emotional content. The total sample of trials studied (270) is classified according to the valence and arousal ratings given by the subjects. Results show a more robust activation in DLPFC during the 'off' period than during the 'on' period, depending on the subjective degree of arousal given to the stimulus. Our findings provide the first fNIRS evidence showing that an increment in subjective arousal leads to activation in DLPFC which persists after stimulus cessation and this does not occur with non-arousing stimuli. Neuroimaging studies must consider the duration and affective dimensions of the stimulus as well as the duration of the scanning to specify how much of the recorded response is analyzed. Not accounting for this difference may contribute to confusion in the data interpretation.

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