Naturalistic Stimuli in Affective Neuroimaging: A Review

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Naturalistic stimuli such as movies, music, and spoken and written stories elicit strong emotions and allow brain imaging of emotions in close-to-real-life conditions. Emotions are multi-component phenomena: relevant stimuli lead to automatic changes in multiple functional components including perception, physiology, behavior, and conscious experiences. Brain activity during naturalistic stimuli reflects all these changes, suggesting that parsing emotion-related processing during such complex stimulation is not a straightforward task. Here, I review affective neuroimaging studies that have employed naturalistic stimuli to study emotional processing, focusing especially on experienced emotions. I argue that to investigate emotions with naturalistic stimuli, we need to define and extract emotion features from both the stimulus and the observer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number675068
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • affective neuroscience
  • emotion
  • fMRI
  • naturalistic neuroimaging
  • movies
  • stories

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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