The origin of pleasant sensations: Insight from direct electrical brain stimulation


  • Villard Cécile
  • Dary Zoé
  • Léonard Jacques
  • Medina Villalon Samuel
  • Carron Romain
  • Makhalova Julia
  • Lagarde Stanislas
  • Lopez Christophe
  • Bartolomei Fabrice


  • Brain stimulation Positive emotion Stereoelectroencephalography Amygdala Insula EBS
  • Direct electrical brain stimulation SEEG
  • Stereoelectroencephalography AI
  • Anterior insula
  • Direct electrical brain stimulation
  • SEEG
  • Stereoelectroencephalography
  • AI

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Research into the neuroanatomical basis of emotions has resulted in a plethora of studies over the last twenty years. However, studies about positive emotions and pleasant sensations remain rare and their anatomical-functional bases are less understood than that of negative emotions. Pleasant sensations can be evoked by electrical brain stimulations (EBS) during stereotactic electroencephalography (SEEG) performed for pre-surgical exploration in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 10 106 EBS performed in 329 patients implanted with SEEG in our epileptology department. We found that 13 EBS in 9 different patients evoked pleasant sensations (.60% of all responses). By contrast we collected 111 emotional responses of negative valence (i.e., 5.13% of all responses). EBS evoking pleasant sensations were applied at 50 Hz with an average intensity of 1.4 ± .55 mA (range .5e2 mA). Pleasant sensations were reported by nine patients of which three patients presented responses to several EBS. We found a male predominance among the patients reporting pleasant sensations and a prominent role of the right cerebral hemisphere. Results show the preponderant role of the dorsal anterior insula and amygdala in the occurrence of pleasant sensations.

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