Machine learning technique may help reconcile self-reported emotions and their neural underpinnings, said researchers. The findings of the study are published in eNeuro.
However, it is unclear to what extent these self-reports measure fear and anxiety, which are known to involve different brain regions, and perhaps other psychological constructs.
‘Pain-related fear is typically assessed with various questionnaires, often used interchangeably, that ask patients how they feel about their clinical pain. ’
Michael Meier and colleagues from Petra Schweinhardts' lab at the Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, addressed this ambiguity by imaging the brains of patients with low back pain as they watched video clips evoking harmful (bending) and harmless (walking) activities for the back.
Participants' brain activity was predictive of their scores on the various questionnaires. Importantly, different questionnaires were associated with distinct patterns of neural activity. These results suggest similar questionnaires may measure different emotional states.