Separating subjective emotion from the perception of emotion-inducing stimuli: An fMRI study

Amy S. Garrett, Richard J. Maddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


fMRI was used to dissociate neural responses temporally associated with the subjective experience of emotion from those associated with the perception of emotion-inducing stimuli in order to better define the emotion-related functions of the amygdala, lateral orbital frontal cortex (OFC), and hippocampus. Subjects viewed aversive pictures followed by an extended post-stimulus period of sustained subjective emotion. Brain regions showing activation paralleling the period of sustained subjective emotion were distinguished from those showing activation limited to the period of aversive picture presentation. Behavioral results showed that subjective ratings of emotion remained elevated for 20 s after offset of the aversive pictures. fMRI results showed that viewing aversive pictures activated the amygdala, lateral OFC, and hippocampus. Subjective emotion (present both during and after aversive pictures) was temporally associated with activation in the right lateral OFC and left hippocampus but not the amygdala. Ratings of subjective emotion were correlated with activation in the right lateral OFC and left hippocampus. The results support direct amygdala involvement in emotion perception but suggest that amygdala activation is not temporally associated with subjective emotion that occurs after the offset of emotion-related stimuli. The results are consistent with a general role for the lateral OFC in monitoring or reflecting on internal experience and show that hippocampal activation is sustained during a period of subjective emotion, possibly related to enhanced memory encoding for the aversive pictures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-274
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 15 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Emotion
  • Hippocampus
  • Orbitofrontal
  • Sustained
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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