In two experiments we aimed to investigate if individual differences in state-dependent decreases or increases of EEG coherence between prefrontal and posterior cortical regions may be indicative of a mechanism modulating the impact social-emotional information has on an individual. Two independent samples were exposed to an emotional stimulation paradigm in which the participants were invited to get involved and sympathize with the persons they were watching (study 1) or listening to (study 2), and who were expressing sadness or anxiety. The two studies yielded consistent results. Higher scores in trait absorption and in the propensity to ruminate were associated with decreased EEG beta coherence during the stimulation, whereas coherence increased in individuals low in absorption or rumination. Coherence changes did not predict to which degree the participants felt infected by the displayed emotions, but in individuals showing decreased prefrontal-posterior coupling during the stimulation, feelings of sadness and anxiety had a greater tendency to persist. The findings suggest that more loose prefrontal-posterior coupling may be related to loosening of control of the prefrontal cortex over incoming social-emotional information and, consequently, to deeper emotional involvement and absorption, whereas increased prefrontal-posterior coupling may be related to strong control, dampening of emotional experience, and not letting oneself become emotionally affected. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Reiser, E. M., Schulter, G., Weiss, E. M., Fink, A., Rominger, C., & Papousek, I. (2012). Decrease of prefrontal-posterior EEG coherence: Loose control during social-emotional stimulation. Brain and Cognition, 80(1), 144–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2012.06.001