Negative emotion can enhance human motor cortical plasticity.
To investigate the function of the amygdala in human emotional cognition, we investigated the electrodermal activity (EDA) in response to masked (unseen) visual stimuli. Six epileptic subjects were investigated after unilateral temporal lobectomy. Emotionally valenced photographic slides (10 negative, 10 neutral) from the International Affective Picture System were presented to their unilateral visual fields under either subliminal or supraliminal conditions. An interaction between hemispheres and emotional valences was found only under the subliminal conditions; greater EDA responses to negative stimuli compared with neutral ones were observed when stimuli were presented to the intact hemispheres. The findings suggest that nonconscious emotional processing is reflected in EDA in a different manner from conscious emotional processing. Medial temporal structures, including the amygdala, thus appear to play a critical role in the neural substrates for this automatic processing.