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How ‘love’ and ‘hate’ differ from ‘sleep’: Using combined electro/magnetoencephalographic data to reveal the sources of early cortical responses to emotional words

Authors

  • Kati Keuper,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
    2. Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
    • Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, Malmedyweg 15, D-48149 Muenster, Germany. E-mail: k.keuper@uni-muenster.de

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  • Peter Zwanzger,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Marisa Nordt,

    1. Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Annuschka Eden,

    1. Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Inga Laeger,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Pienie Zwitserlood,

    1. Institute of Psychology, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
    2. Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Johanna Kissler,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld, D-33501 Bielefeld, Germany
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  • Markus Junghöfer,

    1. Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
    2. Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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  • Christian Dobel

    1. Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
    2. Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Muenster, D-48149 Muenster, Germany
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Abstract

Emotional words—as symbols for biologically relevant concepts—are preferentially processed in brain regions including the visual cortex, frontal and parietal regions, and a corticolimbic circuit including the amygdala. Some of the brain structures found in functional magnetic resonance imaging are not readily apparent in electro- and magnetoencephalographic (EEG; MEG) measures. By means of a combined EEG/MEG source localization procedure to fully exploit the available information, we sought to reduce these discrepancies and gain a better understanding of spatiotemporal brain dynamics underlying emotional-word processing. Eighteen participants read high-arousing positive and negative, and low-arousing neutral nouns, while EEG and MEG were recorded simultaneously. Combined current-density reconstructions (L2-minimum norm least squares) for two early emotion-sensitive time intervals, the P1 (80–120 ms) and the early posterior negativity (EPN, 200–300 ms), were computed using realistic individual head models with a cortical constraint. The P1 time window uncovered an emotion effect peaking in the left middle temporal gyrus. In the EPN time window, processing of emotional words was associated with enhanced activity encompassing parietal and occipital areas, and posterior limbic structures. We suggest that lexical access, being underway within 100 ms, is speeded and/or favored for emotional words, possibly on the basis of an “emotional tagging” of the word form during acquisition. This gives rise to their differential processing in the EPN time window. The EPN, as an index of natural selective attention, appears to reflect an elaborate interplay of distributed structures, related to cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and evaluation of emotional stimuli. Hum Brain Mapp 35:875–888, 2014. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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