Over the past few decades, the quest for discovering the brain substrates of the affect to understand the underlying neural basis of the human’s emotions has resulted in substantial and yet contrasting results. Whereas some point at distinct and independent brain systems for the Positive and Negative affects, others propose the presence of flexible brain regions. In this respect, there are two factors that are common among these previous studies. First, they all focused on the change in brain activation, thereby neglecting the findings that indicate that the stimuli with equivalent sensory and behavioral processing demands may not necessarily result in differential brain activation. Second, they did not take into consideration the brain regional interactivity and the findings that identify that the signals from individual cortical neurons are shared across multiple areas and thus concurrently contribute to multiple functional pathways. To address these limitations, we performed Granger causal analysis on the electroencephalography (EEG) recordings of the human subjects who watched movie clips that elicited Negative, Neutral, and Positive affects. This allowed us to look beyond the brain regional activation in isolation to investigate whether the brain regional interactivity can provide further insights for understanding the neural substrates of the affect. Our results indicated that the differential affect states emerged from subtle variation in information flow of the brain cortical regions that were in both hemispheres. They also showed that these regions that were rather common between affect states than distinct to a specific affect were characterized with both short- as well as long-range information flow. This provided evidence for the presence of simultaneous integration and differentiation in the brain functioning that leads to the emergence of different affects. These results are in line with the findings on the presence of intrinsic large-scale interacting brain networks that underlie the production of psychological events. These findings can help advance our understanding of the neural basis of the human’s emotions by identifying the signatures of differential affect in subtle variation that occurs in the whole-brain cortical flow of information.
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