Mapping Emotions in the Brain

Mapping Emotions in the Brain

Work by P&N's Kevin LaBar and colleagues is featured as lead story today on CNN Health.

LaBar and his team have mapped the distinct patterns of brain activity that correspond to seven different
emotional states while subjects are resting without external stimulation in an MRI scanner..

“It’s getting to be a bit like mind-reading,” said  LaBar.  “Earlier studies have shown that functional MRI can identify whether a person is thinking about a face or a house. Our study is the first to show that specific emotions like fear and anger can be decoded from these scans as well.”

The group is applying new multivariate statistics to the scans of brain activity to see different emotions as networks of activity distributed across areas of the conscious and unconscious brain. When mapping these networks, they identified seven paterns of brain activitiy reflecting contentment, amusement, surprise, fear, anger, sadness and neutrality.

LaBar thinks these new maps of emotional states could be useful in studying people who have poor insight into their emotional status, and might be used in clinical trials to test the effectiveness of treatments to regulate emotions.

Full text of the CNN article:

Kevin Labar's lab webpage: