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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 220, Issue 3–4, pp 277–286 | Cite as

Emotional primes modulate the responses to others’ pain: an ERP study

  • Jing Meng
  • Li Hu
  • Lin Shen
  • Zhou Yang
  • Hong ChenEmail author
  • Xiting Huang
  • Todd Jackson
Research Article

Abstract

Previous event-related potential (ERP) and brain imaging studies have suggested observer responses to others’ pain are modulated by various bottom-up and top-down factors, including emotional primes. However, the temporal dynamics underlying the impact of emotional primes on responses to others’ pain remains poorly understood. In the present study, we explored effects of negative, neutral, and positive emotional priming stimuli on behavioral and cortical responses to visual depictions of others in pain. ERPs were recorded from 20 healthy adults, who were presented with painful and non-painful target pictures following observation of negative, neutral, and positive emotional priming pictures. ERP analyses revealed that relative to non-painful pictures, differential P3 amplitudes for painful pictures were larger followed by negative primes than either neutral or positive primes. There were no significant differential P3 amplitudes for painful pictures relative to non-painful pictures were found followed neutral and positive emotional primes. These results suggest that negative emotional primes strengthen observers’ attention toward others’ pain. These results support the threat value of pain hypothesis.

Keywords

Pain Emotion Priming Event-related potentials (ERP) P3 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU1109084) and the Key Discipline Fund of the National 211 Project, China Education Ministry (NSKD08020).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Meng
    • 2
  • Li Hu
    • 2
  • Lin Shen
    • 3
  • Zhou Yang
    • 2
  • Hong Chen
    • 1
  • Xiting Huang
    • 1
  • Todd Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Faculty of Psychological ScienceSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Faculty of Psychological ScienceSouthwest UniversityBeibei, ChongqingChina
  3. 3.College of Mathematics ScienceChongqing Normal UniversityChongqingChina

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