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Open Journal of Neuroscience

ISSN: 2075-9088
Volume 5, 2017


Open Journal of Neuroscience, 2012, 2-4 [Research Article]

Nonlinear neural representation of emotional feelings elicited by dynamic naturalistic stimulation

Mikko Viinikainen1, Enrico Glerean1, Iiro P. Jääskeläinen*1, Juho Kettunen2, Mikko Sams1,3, Lauri Nummenmaa1,3,4,5
1 Brain and Mind Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS), Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
2 Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS), Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
3 Advanced Magnetic Imaging Centre, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
4 Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
5 Turku PET Centre, Turku, Finland

Corresponding Author & Address:

Iiro P. Jääskeläinen
Brain and Mind Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS) Aalto University, School of Science, FIN-00076 AALTO; Email: iiro.jaaskelainen@aalto.fi; Tel: +358 50 560 9503; Fax: +358 9 470 23182

Article History:
Published: 29th September, 2012   Accepted: 29th September, 2012
Received: 2nd August, 2012      

© Jääskeläinen et al.; licensee Ross Science Publishers

ROSS Open Access articles will be distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original work will always be cited properly.

Keywords: brain, functional magnetic resonance imaging, naturalistic stimuli, emotional valence, arousal

Abstract:

Emotions guide organisms in constantly changing dynamic environments. While the majority of previous studies have assessed neural basis of emotions elicited by impoverished stimuli (e.g., pictures or words), it has been shown that dynamic naturalistic stimuli (e.g., movies and stories) elicit stronger subjective emotional experiences. Here, we studied the neural basis of subjective feelings of pleasantness and unpleasantness (i.e., emotional valence) and emotional arousal by presenting sixteen participants with thirteen emotional and neutral movie clips during 3-Tesla fMRI scanning. After scanning, the participants viewed the clips again and rated their moment-to-moment subjective experience of valence and arousal. These participant-wise experiential time series were used to model each participant’s brain activity during viewing of the movies, while factoring out contributions of physical stimulus features. The results suggest that a set of cortical and subcortical areas encode subjective feelings in nonlinear fashion; we observed a quadratic (U-shaped) dependency between the experienced emotional valence and BOLD signal in insula, somatosensory cortex, anterior and middle cingulate cortices, hypothalamus and thalamus, inferior frontal gyrus, and in medial prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex. We propose that this network of brain areas represents the subjectively experienced valence as deviations from the neutral emotional state.



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