Effects of self-directed and other-directed introspection and emotional valence on activation of the rostral prefrontal cortex during aesthetic experience

Ute Kreplin, S.H. Fairclough

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    18 Citations (Scopus)
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    The medial area of the rostral prefrontal cortex (rPFC) has been implicated in self-relevant processing, autobiographical memory and emotional processing, including the processing of pleasure during aesthetic experiences. The goal of this study was to investigate changes in rPFC activity using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in response to affective stimuli viewed in a self-relevant or other-relevant context. Positive and negative images were displayed to 20 participants under two viewing conditions where participants were asked to think of their own emotions (self) or think about the emotions of the artist who created the work (other). The results revealed an increase of HbO when participants viewed images during the other-condition compared to the self-condition. It was concluded that viewing stimuli from the perspective of another was associated with an increase of cognitive demand. The analysis of deoxygenated haemoglobin (HHb) at right hemispheric areas revealed that activation of the rPFC during the other-condition was specific to the negative images. When images were viewed from the perspective of the self, activation of the rPFC significantly increased at the right-medial area of the rPFC for positive images. Our findings indicate that the influence of valence on rPFC activation during aesthetic experience is contingent on the context of the viewing experience and there is a bias towards positive emotion when images are viewed from the context of the self.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38–45
    Publication statusPublished - May 2015

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuropsychologia. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Neuropsychologia [Vol 71 (2015)] DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.03.013.


    This work was partly funded by the European Commission as part of ICT-2009.4.1 (Digital Libraries and Digital Preservation) under the ARtSENSE project (270318).


    • neuroaesthetics
    • BA10
    • Emotion
    • Attention
    • fNIRS


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