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Emotion. 2010 Jun;10(3):377-89. doi: 10.1037/a0018484.

Neural systems subserving valence and arousal during the experience of induced emotions.

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Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The circumplex model of affect construes all emotions as linear combinations of 2 independent neurophysiological dimensions, valence and arousal. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the neural networks subserving valence and arousal, and we assessed, in 10 participants, the associations of the BOLD (blood oxygen level-dependent) response, an indirect index of neural activity, with ratings of valence and arousal during the emotional experiences induced by the presentation of evocative sentences. Unpleasant emotional experience was associated with increased BOLD signal intensities in the supplementary motor, anterior midcingulate, right dorsolateral prefrontal, occipito-temporal, inferior parietal, and cerebellar cortices. Highly arousing emotions were associated with increased BOLD signal intensities in the left thalamus, globus pallidus, caudate, parahippocampal gyrus, amygdala, premotor cortex, and cerebellar vermis. Separate analyses using a finite impulse response model confirmed these results and revealed that pleasant emotions engaged an additional network that included the midbrain, ventral striatum, and caudate nucleus, all portions of a reward circuit. These findings suggest the existence of distinct networks subserving the valence and arousal dimensions of emotions, with midline and medial temporal lobe structures mediating arousal and dorsal cortical areas and mesolimbic pathways mediating valence.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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