Although many studies revealed that emotions and their dynamics have a profound impact on cognition and behavior, it has proven difficult to unobtrusively measure emotions. In the current study, our objective was to distinguish different experiences elicited by audiovisual stimuli designed to evoke particularly happy, sad, fear and disgust emotions, using electroencephalography (EEG) and a multivariate approach. We show that we were able to classify these emotional experiences well above chance level. Importantly, we retained all the information (frequency and topography) present in the data. This allowed us to interpret the differences between emotional experiences in terms of component psychological processes such as attention and arousal that are known to be associated with the observed activation patterns. In addition, we illustrate how this method of classifying emotional experiences can be applied on a moment-by-moment basis in order to track dynamic changes in the emotional response over time. The application of our approach may be of value in many contexts in which the experience of a given stimulus or situation changes over time, ranging from clinical to consumption settings.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Eijlers, E, Smidts, A, & Boksem, M.A.S. (2019). Implicit measurement of emotional experience and its dynamics. PLoS ONE, 14(2). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0211496