To investigate the influence of stimulus duration on emotional processing, we measured changes of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 14 healthy subjects who viewed neutral or emotional images presented for 3 or 6 s. Presentation for 3 s reproduced the previous result of higher rCBF in inferior medial prefrontal cortex (IMPC) during neutral than emotional stimulation. Six-second presentation reverted this relationship, with activity in IMPC being higher during emotional stimulation. Prolonged stimulus presentation attenuated the rise of rCBF associated with emotions in left parietal cortex and cerebellar hemisphere. We speculate that the different rCBF during neutral and emotional stimulation for 6 s is a consequence of attention divided between the emotional stimuli and their associations. Thus, prefrontal activity rises when a cognitive task accompanies emotional stimulation because several cognitive processes compete for attention. The IMPC may serve the mechanism of attention underlying the concept of a default mode of brain function, selecting among competitive inputs from multiple brain regions rather than just processing emotions. The results emphasize the importance of implicit cognitive processing during emotional activation, however, unintended.
- Default mode of brain function
- Inferior medial prefrontal cortex
- Stimulus duration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience