Brain activity during expectancy of emotional stimuli: an fMRI study.
- PubMed: 12544830
We studied the neural activation associated with the expectancy of emotional stimuli using whole brain fMRI. Fifteen healthy subjects underwent fMRI scanning during which they performed a warned reaction task using emotional pictures carrying pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral content. The task involved an expected or unexpected condition. Data were analyzed by comparing the images acquired under the different conditions. In the expected condition, compared with the unexpected condition, significant activation was observed in the medial, inferior and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Whereas the expectancy of pleasant stimuli produced activation in the left dorsolateral and left medial prefrontal cortex as well as in the right cerebellum, the expectancy of unpleasant stimuli produced activation in the right inferior and right medial prefrontal cortex, the right amygdala, the left anterior cingulate cortex, and bilaterally in the visual cortex. These results suggest that the expectancy of emotional stimuli is mediated by the prefrontal area including the medial, inferior, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, our data suggest that left frontal activation is associated with the expectancy of pleasant stimuli and that right frontal activation is associated with the expectancy of unpleasant stimuli. Finally, our findings suggest that the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex may play an important role in the expectancy of unpleasant stimuli and that the input of this negative information is modulated by these specific brain areas.