During the last decades, neurofeedback training for emotional self-regulation has received significant attention from both the scientific and clinical communities. However, most studies have focused on broader emotional states such as negative vs. positive, primarily due to our poor understanding of the functional anatomy of more complex emotions at the electrophysiological level. Our proof-of-concept study aims at investigating the feasibility of classifying two complex emotions that have been implicated in mental health, namely tenderness and anguish, using features extracted from the electroencephalogram (EEG) signal in healthy participants. Electrophysiological data were recorded from fourteen participants during a block-designed experiment consisting of emotional self-induction trials combined with a multimodal virtual scenario. For the within-subject classification, the linear Support Vector Machine was trained with two sets of samples: 1) random cross-validation of the sliding windows of all trials; and 2) strategic cross-validation, assigning all the windows of one trial to the same fold. Spectral features, together with the frontal-alpha asymmetry, were extracted using Complex Morlet Wavelet analysis. Classification results with these features showed an accuracy of 79.3% on average when doing random cross-validation, and 73.3% when applying strategic cross-validation. We extracted a second set of features from the amplitude time-series correlation analysis, which significantly enhanced random cross-validation accuracy while showing similar performance to spectral features when doing strategic cross-validation. These results suggest that complex emotions show distinct electrophysiological correlates, which paves the way for future EEG-based, real-time neurofeedback training of complex emotional states.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience