abstract Chris Baeken

Chris Baeken (Ghent University, Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology)

The effect of one dorsolateral prefrontal HF-rTMS session on emotional brain processes

Although repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is currently used to investigate neural connections in the living human brain, it remains largely unclear as to how rTMS can alter emotional processing. We examined in 'uniform' samples of healthy female volunteers whether a single high frequency (HF)-rTMS session applied to the DLPFC could influence the processing of positively and negatively valenced emotional stimuli. In our earlier research, we developed a specially adapted fMRI paradigm with only baby faces as 'emotional' visual stimuli. We especially focused on lateralized anterior hemispheric functioning while these salient emotional visual stimuli were being processed. In essence, one active high frequency session (left or right) attenuates stress-related responses in the cortico-subcortical regions of the right anterior hemisphere, such as the insula and the amygdala. Furthermore, active left-sided HF-rTMS results in enhanced task-related processing caused by the neuronal activation of the left DLPFC, which could indicate that females are more able to empathize with the depicted happy baby faces, possibly by the integration of different high-order cognitive processes. Our findings confirm the involvement of the left anterior hemisphere in the processing of positively valenced emotional stimuli and the right anterior hemisphere in the processing of withdrawal-related ones.