Faces and emotions: brain electric field sources during covert emotional processing

Pizzagalli, Diego; König, Thomas; Regard, Marianne; Lehmann, Dietrich (1998). Faces and emotions: brain electric field sources during covert emotional processing. Neuropsychologia, 36(4), pp. 323-332. Elsevier 10.1016/S0028-3932(97)00117-6

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Covert brain activity related to task-free, spontaneous (i.e. unrequested), emotional evaluation of human face images was analysed in 27-channel averaged event-related potential (ERP) map series recorded from 18 healthy subjects while observing random sequences of face images without further instructions. After recording, subjects self-rated each face image on a scale from “liked” to “disliked”. These ratings were used to dichotomize the face images into the affective evaluation categories of “liked” and “disliked” for each subject and the subjects into the affective attitudes of “philanthropists” and “misanthropists” (depending on their mean rating across images). Event-related map series were averaged for “liked” and “disliked” face images and for “philanthropists” and “misanthropists”. The spatial configuration (landscape) of the electric field maps was assessed numerically by the electric gravity center, a conservative estimate of the mean location of all intracerebral, active, electric sources. Differences in electric gravity center location indicate activity of different neuronal populations. The electric gravity center locations of all event-related maps were averaged over the entire stimulus-on time (450 ms). The mean electric gravity center for disliked faces was located (significant across subjects) more to the right and somewhat more posterior than for liked faces. Similar differences were found between the mean electric gravity centers of misanthropists (more right and posterior) and philanthropists. Our neurophysiological findings are in line with neuropsychological findings, revealing visual emotional processing to depend on affective evaluation category and affective attitude, and extending the conclusions to a paradigm without directed task.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

König, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Thomas König

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2014 17:26

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:27

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

brain mapping, evoked potentials, facial expression, laterality, personality, source localization





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