3 years ago

Self-Reference Emerges Earlier than Emotion during an Implicit Self-Referential Emotion Processing Task: Event-Related Potential Evidence.

Wang, Zhou, Liu, Feng, Ma, Guo, Zhong, Yang, Zhang
Self-referential emotion refers to the process of evaluating emotional stimuli with respect to the self. Processes indicative of a self-positivity bias are reflected in electroencephalogram (EEG) signals at ~400 ms when the task does not require a discrimination of self from other. However, when distinguishing between self-referential and other-referential emotions is required, previous studies have shown inconsistent temporal dynamics of EEG signals in slightly different tasks. Based on the observation of early self-other discrimination, we hypothesized that self would be rapidly activated in the early stage to modulate emotional processing in the late stage during an implicit self-referential emotion. To test this hypothesis, we employed an implicit task in which participants were asked to judge the order of Chinese characters of trait adjectives preceded by a self ("I") or other pronoun ("He" or "She"). This study aimed to explore the difference of social-related emotional evaluation from self-reference; the other pronoun was not defined to a specific person, rather it referred to the general concept. Sixteen healthy Chinese subjects participated in the experiment. Event-related potentials (ERPs) showed that there were self-other discrimination effects in the N1 (80-110 ms) and P1 (170-200 ms) components in the anterior brain. The emotional valence was discriminated in the later component of N2 (220-250 ms). The interaction between self-reference and emotional valence occurred during the late positive potential (LPP; 400-500 ms). Moreover, there was a positive correlation between response time (RT) and N1 in the self-reference condition based on the positive-negative contrast, suggesting a modulatory effect of the self-positivity bias. The results indicate that self-reference emerges earlier than emotion and then combines with emotional processing in an implicit task. The findings extend the view that the self plays a highly integrated and modulated role in self-referential emotion processing.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00451

DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00451

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