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Visual stimuli are judged for their emotional significance based on two fundamental dimensions, valence and arousal, and may lead to changes in neural and body functions like attention, affect, memory and heart rate. Alterations in behaviour and mood have been encountered in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) undergoing functional neurosurgery, suggesting that electrical high-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) may interfere with emotional information processing. Here, we use the opportunity to directly record neuronal activity from the STN macroelectrodes in patients with PD during presentation of emotionally laden and neutral pictures taken from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) to further elucidate the role of the STN in emotional processing. We found a significant event-related desynchronization of STN alpha activity with pleasant stimuli that correlated with the individual valence rating of the pictures. Our findings suggest involvement of the human STN in valence-related emotional information processing that can potentially be altered during high-frequency stimulation of the STN in PD leading to behavioural complications.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurosci

Publication Date





767 - 774


Affective Symptoms, Aged, Alpha Rhythm, Electric Stimulation Therapy, Emotions, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Judgment, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Parkinson Disease, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Subthalamic Nucleus