To investigate the neural substrates underlying emotional feelings in the absence of a conscious stimulus percept, we presented a visual stimulus in the blind field of partially cortically blind patients and measured cortical activity (by functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) before and after the stimulus had been paired with an aversive event. After pairing, self-reported negative emotional valence and blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses in somatosensory association areas were enhanced, whereby somatosensory activity predicted highly corresponding reported feelings and startle reflex amplitudes across subjects. Our data provide direct evidence that cortical activity representing physical emotional states governs emotional feelings.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)