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Publication Title

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience


Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

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Geisel School of Medicine


Over the past 60 years, human intracranial electrophysiology (HIE) has been used to characterize seizures in patients with epilepsy. Secondary to the clinical objectives, electrodes implanted intracranially have been used to investigate mechanisms of human cognition. In addition to studies of memory and language, HIE methods have been used to investigate emotions. The aim of this review is to outline the contribution of HIE (electrocorticography, single-unit recording and electrical brain stimulation) to our understanding of the neural representations of emotions. We identified 64 papers dating back to the mid-1950s which used HIE techniques to study emotional states. Evidence from HIE studies supports the existence of widely distributed networks in the neocortex, limbic/paralimbic regions and subcortical nuclei which contribute to the representation of emotional states. In addition, evidence from HIE supports hemispheric dominance for emotional valence. Furthermore, evidence from HIE supports the existence of overlapping neural areas for emotion perception, experience and expression. Lastly, HIE provides unique insights into the temporal dynamics of neural activation during perception, experience and expression of emotional states. In conclusion, we propose that HIE techniques offer important evidence which must be incorporated into our current models of emotion representation in the human brain.