Brain Topography

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 205–215 | Cite as

Emotion Processing in the Visual Brain: A MEG Analysis

  • Peter Peyk
  • Harald T. Schupp
  • Thomas Elbert
  • Markus Junghöfer
Original Paper


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related brain potential (ERP) studies provide empirical support for the notion that emotional cues guide selective attention. Extending this line of research, whole head magneto-encephalogram (MEG) was measured while participants viewed in separate experimental blocks a continuous stream of either pleasant and neutral or unpleasant and neutral pictures, presented for 330 ms each. Event-related magnetic fields (ERF) were analyzed after intersubject sensor coregistration, complemented by minimum norm estimates (MNE) to explore neural generator sources. Both streams of analysis converge by demonstrating the selective emotion processing in an early (120–170 ms) and a late time interval (220–310 ms). ERF analysis revealed that the polarity of the emotion difference fields was reversed across early and late intervals suggesting distinct patterns of activation in the visual processing stream. Source analysis revealed the amplified processing of emotional pictures in visual processing areas with more pronounced occipito-parieto-temporal activation in the early time interval, and a stronger engagement of more anterior, temporal, regions in the later interval. Confirming previous ERP studies showing facilitated emotion processing, the present data suggest that MEG provides a complementary look at the spread of activation in the visual processing stream.


Emotion Attention MEG ERF ERP Early posterior negativity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Peyk
    • 1
  • Harald T. Schupp
    • 2
  • Thomas Elbert
    • 2
  • Markus Junghöfer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignal AnalysisUniversity of MünsterMuensterGermany

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