Emotions are frequently characterized by distinct dimensions such as valence, intensity, and recognition. However, the exact neural representation of these dimensions in different prefrontal cortical regions remains unclear. One of the problems in revealing prefrontal cortical representation is that the very same regions are also involved in cognitive functions associated with emotion processing. We therefore conducted an fMRI study involving the viewing of emotional pictures (using the International Affective Picture System; IAPS) and controlled for associated cognitive processing like judgment and preceding attention. Functional activation was correlated with subjective post-scanning ratings of valence, intensity, and recognition. Valence significantly correlated with the functional response in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), intensity with activation in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), and recognition with the functional response in perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (PACC). In conclusion, our results indicate segregated neural representation of the different emotion dimensions in different prefrontal cortical regions.
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