Emotional fMRI

Processing of speech with graduated emotional charge:
an fMRI study to detect residual capacity in patients with disorders of consciousness


An fMRI protocol was developed to detect residual cognitive capacities in patients with severe brain injuries associated with disorders of consciousness. Auditory processing of speech is assessed using passive listening of narratives, with graduated emotional charge. Emotional charge is modulated by voice familiarity (unknown person or relative) and content (general knowledge with no relation to the patient or autobiographical memory recollections). Results in a control group show graduated cerebral activation, with a more widespread recruitment of regions for the highest emotional charge. The case of a patient in persistent vegetative state is shown.


Fig. 1: Cerebral activation in the control group during passive listening of narratives with low emotional charge (A), mean emotional charge (B) and high emotional charge (C), compared to silence.



Fig. 2: Cerebral activation in a patient diagnosed in persistent vegetative state during passive listening of narratives with low emotional charge (A), mean emotional charge (B) and high emotional charge (C), compared to silence.