Synchronization of EEG Theta and Alpha Rhythms in an Unconscious Set to the Perception of an Emotional Facial Expression

  • É. A. Kostandov
  • N. S. Kurova
  • E. A. Cheremushkin
  • N. E. Petrenko
  • M. L. Ashkinazi


Coherence functions in cortical electrical potentials in the theta (4–7 Hz) and alpha ranges (8–13 Hz) recorded during the formation and testing stages of a visual set to facial images bearing an emotional expression (an angry face) were studied in healthy adult subjects (n = 35). Differences in the spatial synchronization between theta and alpha potentials were seen, especially in rigid forms of the set, in which cases of erroneous perception of facial expressions were seen with contrast and assimilative illusions. This group of subjects (n = 23) showed increases in theta potentials between the dorsolateral areas of the frontal cortex (the orbitofrontal cortex) and the temporal area in the right hemisphere. A mechanism is proposed for the development of visual illusions. Analysis of the coherence functions of cortical potentials in the theta and alpha ranges generates a “window” which can be used to study the operation of the two functional systems integrating brain activity, i.e., the corticohippocampal and frontothalamic, in the perception of a facial expression. The frontothalamic system is associated with more diffuse types of cortical activation, especially in its anterior areas. The theta rhythm system evidently facilitates integration of the frontal cortex with the temporal area in the right hemisphere and the connections of the latter with the parietal and central zones in both hemispheres.

Key words

alpha rhythm theta rhythm coherence of potentials recognition of facial expressions descending influences cognitive set internal states unconscious prefrontal cortex orbitofrontal cortex temporal cortex corticohippocampal and frontothalamic integration systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • É. A. Kostandov
    • 1
  • N. S. Kurova
    • 1
  • E. A. Cheremushkin
    • 1
  • N. E. Petrenko
    • 2
  • M. L. Ashkinazi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and NeurophysiologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Age PhysiologyRussian Academy of EducationMoscowRussia

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