Research on the human emotion and its application to populations with difficulties of adaptation in the personal and social domains

S2015/HUM-3327 (EMO-CM)

Lifestyle changes and other social dynamics have led to the current society becoming a generator of stress and negative emotions that requires a great individual adaptation. Unsuccessful adaptation can be a negative factor for mental health. Biological factors together with stress-generating dynamics, can act not only as triggers, but also as maintenance and exacerbation contributors of the affective and cognitive symptoms characterizing some health problems. Our interest, therefore, is aimed to better understand the processes of interaction between emotion and human cognition in general population, as well as in disorders such as fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD). The present Research Network constitutes a new multidisciplinary platform for the study of behavior and brain responses patterns in these populations, through the use of techniques such as functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) or recording brain electrical activity (EEG). This Network combines the coordinated efforts of 5 scientific groups belonging to 4 universities (Rey Juan Carlos University, Autonomous University of Madrid, Complutense University of Madrid and University of Jaén). Our final objective focuses on the transfer of knowledge acquired to society, through the approach of new methods of evaluation and treatment on the studied diseases in order to improve wellbeing of the people who suffer from them.

LATEST RESEARCH

N170 sensitivity to facial expression: A meta-analysis

The N170 component is the most important electrophysiological index of face processing. Early studies concluded that it was insensitive to facial expression, thus supporting dual theories postulating separate mechanisms for identity and expression encoding. However, recent evidence contradicts this assumption. We conducted a meta-analysis to resolve inconsistencies and to derive theoretical implications. A systematic revision of 128 studies analyzing N170 in response to neutral and emotional expressions yielded 57 meta-analyzable experiments (involving 1645 healthy adults). First, the N170 was found to be sensitive to facial expressions, supporting proposals arguing for integrated rather than segregated mechanisms in the processing of identity and expression. Second, this sensitivity is heterogeneous, with anger, fear and happy faces eliciting the largest N170 amplitudes. Third, we explored some modulatory factors, including the focus of attention – N170 amplitude was found to be also sensitive to unattended expressions – or the reference electrode –common reference reinforcing the effects– . In sum, N170 is a valuable tool to study the neural processing of facial expressions in order to develop current theories.

Retinotopic mapping of visual 

event-related potentials
Capilla, A., Melcón, M., Kesse, D., Calderón, R., Pazo-Álvarez., Carretié, L. 

Visual stimulation is frequently employed in electroencephalographic (EEG) research. However, despite its widespread use, no studies have thoroughly evaluated how the morphology of the visual event-related potentials (ERPs) varies according to the spatial location of stimuli. Hence, the purpose of this study was to perform a detailed retinotopic mapping of visual ERPs. We recorded EEG activity while participants were visually stimulated with 60 pattern-reversing checkerboards placed at different polar angles and eccentricities. Our results show five pattern-reversal ERP components. C1 and C2 components inverted polarity between the upper and lower hemifields. P1 and N1 showed higher amplitudes and shorter latencies to stimuli located in the contralateral lower quadrant. In contrast, P2 amplitude was enhanced and its latency was reduced by stimuli presented in the periphery of the upper hemifield. The retinotopic maps presented here could serve as a guide for selecting optimal visuo-spatial locations in future ERP studies.