Seeing emotions, reading emotions: Behavioral and ERPs evidence of the regulation of pictures and words

Alessandro Grecucci, Simone Sulpizio, Elisa Tommasello, Francesco Vespignani, Remo Job

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Whilst there has been extensive study of the mechanisms underlying the regulation for pictures, the ability and the mechanisms beyond the regulation of words remains to be clarified. Similarly, the effect of strategy when applying a regulatory process is still poorly explored. The present study seeks to elucidate these issues comparing the effect of regulation and of strategy to both neutral and emotional words and pictures. Methodology/Principal findings Thirty young adults applied the strategy of distancing to the emotions elicited by unpleasant and neutral pictures and words while their subjective ratings and ERPs were recorded. At a behavioral level, participants successfully regulated the arousal and the valence of both pictures and words. At a neural level, unpleasant pictures produced an increase in the late positive potential modulated during the regulate condition. Unpleasant linguistic stimuli elicited a posterior negativity as compared to neutral stimuli, but no effect of regulation on ERP was detectable. More importantly, the effect of strategy independently of stimulus type, produced a significant larger Stimulus Preceding Negativity. Dipole reconstruction localized this effect in the middle frontal areas of the brain. Conclusions As such, these new psychophysiological findings might help to understand how pictures and words can be regulated by distancing in daily life and clinical contexts, and the neural bases of the effect of strategy for which we suggest an integrative model.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0209461
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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