Symposia > Sequeira

Emotions: Towards an integrated approach

Chairs: Henrique Sequeira1 & Salvatore Campanella4

1Laboratoire de Neurosciences Fonctionnelles et Pathologies, UMR 8160 CNRS, Service EFV, Hôpital Salengro, Lille, France, 2 Laboratoire de Psychologie Médicale, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgique


A huge amount of empirical data has been currently collected on emotions through the use of different stimuli, tasks, populations and techniques. Overall, this important mass of data has contributed to enhance our understanding of emotional processes. However, it is well-known that each technique has its specificity: for instance, even-related potentials (ERPs) display a high temporal but quite poor spatial resolution, while functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows the opposite pattern. Based on the pearls and pitfalls of each technique, the scope of the present symposium will be to promote the need of an integrated approach in order to increase our knowledge of normal and pathological brain processes related to emotions. Four different speakers will present original data combining different techniques to investigate emotional processes. The first two presentations will combine central and peripheric information, such as magneto-encephalography (MEG) and electro-dermal responses (ERDs) (Henrique Sequeira, University of Lille, France), and fMRI and autonomic cardiovascular monitoring (Hugo Critchley, University of Sussex, UK). The other two presentations will focus on brain data through electro-encephalography (EEG) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) (Marie-Anne Vanderhasselt, Ghent University, Belgium), and ERPs and fMRI (Salvatore Campanella, University
of Brussels, Belgium). Implications of such integrated data in understanding emotional processes were discussed at fundamental and clinical levels.

Talk 1:

Emotion and Brain-Body Activation

Fabien D’Hondt1,2, Jacques Honoré1,2, Franco Lepore4,5 , Maryse Lassonde3,4 and
Henrique Sequeira1,2,3

1 Université de Lille Nord de France, Lille, France.
2LNFP, CNRS, Université de Lille, 2, Lille, France.
3Neurosciences, Université de Lille 1, Lille, France.
4 Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition, Université de Montréal,Montreal, QC, Canada.
5Centre de Recherche, CHU Sainte-Justine, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Emotion appears to be a key link between mental states and physical disease (Lane et al., 2009). It is also known that emotional visual information receives an attentional priority capture and activates brain-body responses that could be critical to the emotional regulation and general adaptation. However, emotional processing involves cerebral, physiological and behavioral responses which integration remains poorly explored. Consequently, we aimed to develop a neurophysiological approach linking central and peripheral neural reactivity to emotion. To this end, we carried out simultaneous recordings of evoked-related magnetic fields (ERFs) and skin conductance responses (SCRs), a reliable autonomic marker of emotional arousal, during the presentation of emotional scenes to healthy participants.
In a first experiment, scenes were centrally presented to 18 participants. ERFs results revealed a greater activity at 180 ms in an occipito-temporal component for emotional pictures relative to neutral ones; this emotional arousal effect was significantly correlated with late-coming increases in SCRs magnitude. In a second experiment, the same pictures were presented at 12° of eccentricity in the left or the right visual fields to 16 participants. Results showed a differential hemispheric contribution in the emotional processing. Importantly, the observed differential hemispheric impact of emotional stimulations persists at body level, as revealed by SCRs magnitude differences. In conclusion, this integrated approach allowed us to identify an early brain-body impact of emotional arousal and a hemispheric specialized effect of emotional valence processing. This study may ultimately constitute a significant step in the quest for understanding the neural bases of emotional impact on physical health and disease.

Talk 2:

Cardiovascular differentiation of emotions

Hugo Critchley1, Sarah Garfinkel1, Marcus Gray2, Neil Harrison1
1 Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science University of Sussex, 2 Faculty of Medicine Monash University, Victoria, Australia

We have explored how cardiovascular responses relate to the differential processing of emotions using a combination of detailed autonomic cardiovascular monitoring and functional magnetic resonance imaging of brain (fMRI) during the performance of emotional tasks. Across a set of studies, we have identified generators of efferent cardiovascular responses to affective stimuli within anterior cingulate cortices, orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala and hypothalamus / periaqueductal grey matter (PAG). The magnitude of evoked effect on the cardiovascular system is reflected in the amplitude and pattern of neural responses across these regions. In parallel work, we have shown that the state of cardiovascular autonomic arousal impacts on the subsequent processing (perceived intensity) of stimuli evoking  different emotions, and is reflected in the engagement of regions including insula orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala and PAG suggesting again that there is distinct patterning linking autonomic response and emotion type. Our interpretation of these data attempts to understand emotions within of a predictive coding model of bodily arousal state.

Talk 3:

The effects of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to the prefrontal cortex on the neuro-circuitry of emotional control

Marie-Anne Vanderhasselt1, Rudi De Raedt1, Chris Baeken2, & Paulo S. Boggio3
1 Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University;
2 Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital UZBrussel;
3Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie

Recent developments chart the neuronal fear pathways during context conditioning. Yet, little is known how, and whether, the same pathways are activated during development given differences in maturation between structures involved in emotional and cognitive processing. Here, in an fMRI task, we used differential context conditioning to (aversive) facial stimuli that were either presented in a context in which conditioning could occur (room A) and a context in which no conditioning occurred (room B). Eighteen adolescents (9 female, mean age 14.92 years) and 18 IQ and sex-matched adults (9 female, mean age 31.22 years) were required to navigate through two different rooms in a virtual maze while encountering the conditioned stimuli. The results revealed a significant two-way interaction between context and threat cue in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). This interaction showed that activations to aversive faces relative to non-aversive faces were reduced in the conditioned context.
The reverse effect, larger activations for conditioned faces relative to non-conditioned faces were present in the non-conditioned context. In addition, presence in the conditioned context increased insula activation for both groups. Main effects of group on the other hand were restricted to heightened activations for adolescents relative to adults in amygdala and hippocampus. By comparison, no differences emerged on behavioural performance measures or fear ratings. The data implicate a differential role of the OFC in contextual threat. The findings are discussed in relation to recent findings in cue conditioning during development.

Talk 4:

Target detection through a visual oddball task: a combined ERP-fMRI study

Salvatore Campanella1, Philippe Peigneux2, Mathieu Bourguignon3, & Xavier Detiège3

1 Laboratory of Psychological Medicine, Free University of Brussels, Belgium;
Functional Neuroimaging and Neuropsychology Research Unit, Free University of Brussels, Belgium; Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

Detection of infrequent target stimuli evokes a widespread neural activity reflected in both electrophysiological and hemodynamic measures. In the classical “oddball task”, participants have to identify infrequent target stimuli within a monotonous series of rapidly presented, similar stimuli. This task has been used in more than 1500 published event-related potentials (ERPs) papers, as well as in numerous event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. This popularity is a direct result of its success in evoking robust and reliable responses that are deemed markers of various cognitive functions. On the one hand, rare visual targets elicit in ERP studies a posterior N2 component, related to the orientation of attention, which precedes a parietal P3 component, referring to cognitive contextual integration. On the other hand, despite the oddball task’s simplicity, fMRI data have shown that processing of even simple cognitive tasks is associated with widespread activation in all brain areas potentially involved in the rapid evaluation and processing of the stimuli. However, due to poor spatial resolution, localizing generators of ERP components is still uncertain, and fMRI alone do not present the temporal resolution needed to segregate the neural sources underlying an N2 versus a P3 component in the oddball task. To solve this discrepancy, we scanned 16 participants using a combined ERP-fMRI recording during a visual oddball task in which they had to detect 3 types of deviant faces (representing a change in emotion -fear or happiness- or in identity) within a series of frequent neutral faces. Results show that constraining fMRI analyses by ERP data (N2 versus P3) provides novel evidence for specific neural networks underlying specific cognitive-related electrophysiological responses to deviant stimulations.

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