Event Abstract

Behavioural correlates of brain activity during Self- versus Other- referential emotion processing depend on emotion awareness

  • 1 University of Newcastle, School of Psychology, Australia
  • 2 Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Australia
  • 3 University of Wuerzburg, Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Germany
  • 4 University of Tuebingen, University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,, Germany

Aims: Recognising our own and others emotions is vital for healthy social development. The aim of the current study was to determine how the brain integrates Self and Other emotion ownership concepts, and how the integration of this information influences behavioural expressions of emotion.
Method: EEG was used to record changes in neural activity during the ‘input’ stage of emotion processing, while facial EMG was used to record the ‘output’ stage when behavioural responses are elicited, including spontaneous facial muscle activity. Eighteen participants passively viewed negative, positive and neutral emotional pictures during three blocks of referential instructions. Each participant imagined themself, an unknown person or no one experiencing the emotional scenario, with the priming words ‘You’, ‘Him’ or ‘None’ presented before each picture for the respective block of instructions. Emotion awareness (EA) was also recorded using the TAS-20 Alexithymia questionnaire.
Results: The late positive potential over the central-parietal cortex was significantly greater when participants were not imagining anyone experiencing the scenario. As expected, Corrugator Supercilii (CS) muscle activity increased significantly between 500-1000ms post-stimulus onset during negative picture presentations regardless of ownership. Independent of valence, CS activity was greatest during the ‘No one’ task and lowest during the ‘Self’ task from less than 250-1000ms. Interestingly, the degree of CS activation during referential tasks was further modulated by EA. Low EA corresponded to significantly stronger CS activity overall compared to high EA, and this effect was even more pronounced during the ‘No one’ task.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that cognitive processes related to the perception of emotion ownership can influence the course of neural affective processing, and that a greater degree of integration between higher cognitive and lower affective levels of information may alter or suppress behavioural expressions of emotion. These findings are discussed with reference to current models of cognitive-affective regulation.

Keywords: Emotion Ownership, EEG, facial emg, Affective-cognitive interactions, Emotion Awareness, self-awareness

Conference: ASP2013 - 23rd Annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Wollongong, Australia, 20 Nov - 22 Nov, 2013.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Topic: Emotion

Citation: Mavratzakis A, Herbert C and Walla P (2013). Behavioural correlates of brain activity during Self- versus Other- referential emotion processing depend on emotion awareness. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: ASP2013 - 23rd Annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Psychophysiology. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2013.213.00048

Received: 05 Nov 2013; Published Online: 05 Nov 2013.

* Correspondence: Miss. Aimee Mavratzakis, University of Newcastle, School of Psychology, Newcastle, Australia, Aimee.Mavratzakis@uon.edu.au

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