Electrophysiological spatiotemporal dynamics during implicit visual threat processing

Bambi L. DeLaRosa, Jeffrey S. Spence, Scott K M Shakal, Michael A. Motes, Clifford S. Calley, Virginia I. Calley, John Hart, Michael A. Kraut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have found evidence for corticolimbic theta band electroencephalographic (EEG) oscillations in the neural processing of visual stimuli perceived as threatening. However, varying temporal and topographical patterns have emerged, possibly due to varying arousal levels of the stimuli. In addition, recent studies suggest neural oscillations in delta, theta, alpha, and beta-band frequencies play a functional role in information processing in the brain. This study implemented a data-driven PCA based analysis investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of electroencephalographic delta, theta, alpha, and beta-band frequencies during an implicit visual threat processing task. While controlling for the arousal dimension (the intensity of emotional activation), we found several spatial and temporal differences for threatening compared to nonthreatening visual images. We detected an early posterior increase in theta power followed by a later frontal increase in theta power, greatest for the threatening condition. There was also a consistent left lateralized beta desynchronization for the threatening condition. Our results provide support for a dynamic corticolimbic network, with theta and beta band activity indexing processes pivotal in visual threat processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Cognition
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Beta
  • Corticolimbic network
  • ERSP
  • Electroencephalography
  • Theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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