Effect of emotional context in auditory-cortex processing.
We examined how emotional context influences processing of emotionally neutral acoustic stimuli in the human auditory cortex. Nine subjects performed a simple discrimination task. In the positive-emotional trials correct performance was awarded with money, whereas in the negative-emotional trials, correct performance resulted in avoidance of the loss of money. Auditory stimuli were identical in both trial types. An event-related brain potential (ERP) N100 deflection, generated in the auditory cortex, was significantly larger in the negative as compared to the positive-emotional trials. This result demonstrates that emotional context influences early sensory-specific cortical processing. In addition, we found some evidence in favor of assumption that processing of positive visual feedback was faster in negative-emotional trials. This was reflected in the tendency for the latency of visual ERPs to be shorter in the latter case. We suggest that our results indicate that the systemic organization at all stages of deployment of behavior depends on emotional context. Dynamics of learning the discrimination task was also dependent on emotional context.