Several theories conceptualise emotions along two main dimensions: valence (a continuum from negative to positive) and arousal (a continuum that varies from low to high). These dimensions are typically treated as independent in many neuroimaging experiments, yet recent behavioural findings suggest that they are actually interdependent. This result has impact on neuroimaging design, analysis and theoretical development. We were interested in determining the extent of this interdependence both behaviourally and neuroanatomically, as well as teasing apart any activation that is specific to each dimension. While we found extensive overlap in activation for each dimension in traditional emotion areas (bilateral insulae, orbitofrontal cortex, amygdalae), we also found activation specific to each dimension with characteristic relationships between modulations of these dimensions and BOLD signal change. Increases in arousal ratings were related to increased activations predominantly in voice-sensitive cortices after variance explained by valence had been removed. In contrast, emotions of extreme valence were related to increased activations in bilateral voice-sensitive cortices, hippocampi, anterior and midcingulum and medial orbito- and superior frontal regions after variance explained by arousal had been accounted for. Our results therefore do not support a complete segregation of brain structures underpinning the processing of affective dimensions.
- Journal Article