Greater Attention to Relevant Emotion Due to Orbitofrontal Lesion

Verónica Mäki-Marttunen, Venla Kuusinen, Jari Peräkylä, Keith Ogawa, Maarja Brause, Antti Brander, Kaisa M. Hartikainen

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Injury to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a frequent consequence of head injury and may lead to dysfunctional regulation of emotional and social behavior. Dysfunctional emotional behavior may partly be related to the role of the OFC in emotion-attention interaction, as reported previously. In order to better understand its role in emotion-attention and emotion-cognitive control interactions, we investigated attention allocation to task-relevant and task-irrelevant threat-related emotional stimuli during a task requiring cognitive control in patients with lesion to the OFC. We measured the behavioral performance and event-related potentials (ERP) of 13 patients with OFC lesion and 11 control subjects during a Go/NoGo visual discrimination task. In the task, line drawings of threatening (spider) and neutral (flower) figures served as either task-relevant Go or NoGo signals, or as task-irrelevant distractors. Overall performance did not differ between the groups. In contrast to the control group performance, the orbitofrontal group performance was improved by relevant threat signal in comparison with neutral signal. Further, task-relevant threat signals evoked larger frontocentral N2-P3 amplitude in the orbitofrontal group. Taken together, behavioral and electrophysiological results suggest that patients with OFC injury allocated more attentional and cognitive control resources in the context of task-relevant emotional stimuli. This study provides new evidence for the role of the OFC in emotion-attention and emotion-cognitive control interactions. Further, the OFC seems to contribute to the balance between voluntary and involuntary attention networks in context of emotional stimuli. Better understanding of alterations in emotion-attention interaction offers insight into affective dysfunction due to OFC lesion.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Psychology

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