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The processing bias for threatening cues revealed by event-related potential and event-related oscillation analyses

Authors
Journal
Neuroscience
0306-4522
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
203
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.12.038
Keywords
  • Threatening Picture
  • Processing Bias
  • Event-Related Potential
  • Event-Related Oscillation
  • Emotion
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

Abstract The processing bias of threat is crucial for survival. However, the neurophysiological underpinnings of this bias are not fully understood. To contribute to a better understanding of the processing bias for threat, both event-related potential (ERP) and event-related oscillation (ERO) analyses were applied to the electroencephalography (EEG) data recorded from subjects while performing a go/no-go variant of the dot-probe task. In the task, subjects responded to the infrequent target stimuli and didn't respond to the standard stimuli. Both target and standard stimuli were preceded by a bilateral picture pair [one emotional (threatening or pleasant) and one neutral] as an emotional cue. The behavioral data and the P1 elicited by standard stimuli didn't show any significant main effect or interaction. The mean amplitude of N1 was greater negative for threatening cues than pleasant cues with the most significant effect in the fronto-central region, indicating a processing bias for threat related to early attention processing. In addition, the theta synchronization was stronger for threatening cues than pleasant cues with significant effect in posterior regions, suggesting that the posterior theta synchronization reflects the evaluation of emotional significance of stimuli. Taken together, the ERP and ERO analyses provide some independent insights into the processing bias for threatening cues and illustrate this bias more comprehensively.

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