AUTHORS: Nahum L, Morand S, Barcellona-Lehmann S, Schnider A

Human Brain Mapping, 30(7): 2120-31, July 2009


Successful adaptive behavior requires fast information processing. Behavioral switches may be necessary in response to threatening stimuli or when anticipated outcomes fail to occur. In this study, we explored the cortical processing of these two components using high-resolution evoked potentials. Subjects made a reversal learning task where they had to predict which one of two faces had a target stimulus on the nose. We found early electrocortical differences at 100-200 ms depending on whether the target stimulus was a spider or a disk. Source estimation indicated that this distinction was mediated by an anterior medial temporal region including the amygdala and adjacent cortex. When a switch to the alternate face was required, there was a discrete early electrocortical correlate after 200 ms, mediated by ventromedial prefrontal areas. Continued validity of stimulus-target associations was signaled at 400-520 ms, mediated by the parahippocampal region. The study indicates rapid serial processing of innate emotional quality, then cognitive-behavioral relevance of stimuli, mediated by limbic and paralimbic structures.

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