Appetitive vs. defensive responses to emotional cues. Autonomic measures and brain oscillation modulation

Michela Balconi, Emma Brambilla, Luciana Falbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The present study explored the effect of the subjective evaluation and the individual differences related to BIS and BAS (Behavioural Inhibition and Activation System) on autonomic measures and brain oscillations, in response to appetitive and aversive emotional stimuli. Multiple measures were recorded, such as psychophysiological (skin conductance response, heart rate, and electromyography) and frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha, and gamma), during viewing IAPS figures, that varied in terms of pleasantness (appetitive vs. aversive) and arousing power (high vs. low intensity). Both BIS and BAS measures were significant in modulating behavioural, autonomic and brain oscillations responses. Withdrawal (BIS system) and appetitive (BAS system) behaviour showed opposite patterns of responses by the subjects. Also, frontal cortical site response was more significant than other sites. Nevertheless, no specific lateralization effect was found as a function of BIS/BAS dichotomy. Moreover, autonomic variables and frequency band modulations were found to be effected by valence and arousal rating per se, with an increased response for high arousing and negative or positive stimuli in comparison with low arousing and neutral stimuli. The effects of subjective evaluation and individual differences were discussed at light of coping activity model of emotion comprehension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-84
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Autonomic measure
  • BIS/BAS system
  • Brain oscillation
  • Emotion
  • Lateralization


Dive into the research topics of 'Appetitive vs. defensive responses to emotional cues. Autonomic measures and brain oscillation modulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this