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Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00175

Midfrontal theta and posterior parietal alpha band oscillations support conflict resolution in a masked affective priming task

 Jun Jiang1*, Kira Bailey2 and  Xiao Xiao3
  • 1School of Psychology, Army Medical University, China
  • 2Department of Psychology, Ohio Wesleyan University, United States
  • 3School of Public Health and Management, Chongqing Medical University, China

Past attempts to characterize the neural mechanisms of affective priming have conceptualized it in terms of classic cognitive conflict, but have not examined the neural oscillatory mechanisms of subliminal affective priming. Using behavioral and EEG time frequency analysis, the current study examines the oscillatory dynamics of unconsciously triggered conflict in an emotional facial expressions version of the masked affective priming task. The results demonstrate that the power dynamics of conflict are characterized by increased mid-frontal theta activity and suppressed parieto-occipital alpha activity. Across-subject and within-trial correlation analyses further confirmed this pattern. Phase synchrony and Granger causality analyses revealed that the fronto-parietal network was involved in unconscious conflict detection and resolution. Our findings support a response conflict account of affective priming, and reveal the role of the fronto-parietal network in unconscious conflict control.

Keywords: conflict, theta, alpha, facial expressions, fronto-parietal network, Affective Priming

Received: 26 Dec 2017; Accepted: 13 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Juliana Yordanova, Institute of Neurobiology (BAS), Bulgaria

Reviewed by:

Michael X. Cohen, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jee Hyun Choi, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), South Korea
Kobe Desender, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany  

Copyright: © 2018 Jiang, Bailey and Xiao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jun Jiang, Army Medical University, School of Psychology, Chongqing, China,