Decoding the neural responses to experiencing disgust and sadness.

H Revers, K Van Deun, Wim Strijbosch, J Vroomen, Marcel Bastiaansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Being able to classify experienced emotions by identifying distinct neural responses has tremendous value in both fundamental research (e.g. positive psychology, emotion regulation theory) and in applied settings (clinical, healthcare, commercial). We aimed to decode the neural representation of the experience of two discrete emotions: sadness and disgust, devoid of differences in valence and arousal. In a passive viewing paradigm, we showed emotion evoking images from the International Affective Picture System to participants while recording their EEG. We then selected a subset of those images that were distinct in evoking either sadness or disgust (20 for each), yet were indistinguishable on normative valence and arousal. Event-related potential analysis of 69 participants showed differential responses in the N1 and EPN components and a support-vector machine classifier was able to accurately classify (58%) whole-brain EEG patterns of sadness and disgust experiences. These results support and expand on earlier findings that discrete emotions do have differential neural responses that are not caused by differences in valence or arousal.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • emotion
  • EEG
  • classification
  • sadness
  • disgust
  • valence
  • ERP
  • Valence
  • Disgust
  • Classification
  • Emotion
  • Sadness


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