for people ages 18-50 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Edward F Chang, MDVirginia Sturm, PhD
Headshot of Edward F Chang
Edward F Chang
Headshot of Virginia Sturm
Virginia Sturm



The overall goal of this study is to elucidate how emotion network dynamics relate to the behavioral, autonomic, and experiential changes that accompany emotions and to investigate how emotion network dysfunction relates to affective symptoms. Affective symptoms are a common feature of neuropsychiatric disorders that reflect dysfunction in a distributed brain network that supports emotion. How aberrant functioning in a single emotion network underlies a wide range of affective symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, is not well understood. Anchored by the anterior cingulate cortex and ventral anterior insula, the emotion network responds to numerous affective stimuli. The recording of neural activity directly from the cortical surface from individuals is a promising approach since intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) can provide direct estimates of neuronal populations to map the spatiotemporal dynamics of the emotion network at a millisecond level resolution. This study will exam how activity within emotion network hubs changes during emotions and how emotion network properties make some individuals more vulnerable to affective symptoms than others. A multidisciplinary approach is critical for understanding the dynamic brain network to advance neuroanatomical models of emotions and for guiding the development of novel treatments for affective symptoms.


Intracranial EEG (iEEG) recordings make it possible to obtain direct measures of emotion network dynamics not possible with other methods. This study proposes to conduct a multimodal assessment of emotions in patients with epilepsy who are undergoing surgery for seizure localization. Electrodes will be placed in sites based on the clinical needs of each patient and will include sites within and outside of the emotion network. The research study team will examine measures of behavior, autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity, and subjective experience to continuous iEEG recordings to determine how emotion network dynamics relate to emotions and affective symptoms. Affective symptoms are common in epilepsy, with nearly one third of patients meeting diagnostic criteria for a severe anxiety or depressive disorder during their lifetimes. This clinical population offers a unique opportunity to obtain direct recordings of emotion network activity with concurrent measures of emotion physiology and behavior. The aims of this study seeks to determine how emotion network activity relates to naturalistic affective behaviors (Aim 1), whether we can uncover the unique neural signatures of discrete emotions and examine their relation to task-based measures of emotional reactivity (Aim 2), and whether electrical stimulation of emotion network changes network activity and alters emotions, mood, and anxiety (Aim 3). Together, these aims will help to uncover the neural mechanisms that produce, sense, and regulate emotions. These results should heavily impact the current understanding of the neurobiological systems that underlie affective symptoms and, therefore, will have significant implications for identifying biomarkers of system dysfunction to guide development of new treatments.


Epilepsy, Depression, Anxiety, Emotions, Viewing visual stimuli and electrical stimulation of the brain, Video and stimulation-based induction of emotion


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-50

  • Participants with epilepsy at UCSF undergoing surgical electrode implantation for seizure localization and
  • Participants with electrodes implanted in at least two regions of interest who are willing and able to cooperate with study tasks.

You CAN'T join if...

  • Participants who lack capacity or decline to provide informed consent,
  • Participants who have significant cerebral lesions or
  • Participants with cognitive deficits that preclude reliable completion of study tasks.


  • UCSF
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientists at UCSF

  • Edward F Chang, MD
    Dr. Edward Chang is a neurosurgeon who treats patients with epilepsy, brain tumors, and cranial nerve nerve compression syndromes such as trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm. He is Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF. Dr Chang specializes in advanced brain mapping methods to preserve crucial areas for speech and motor functions in the brain.
  • Virginia Sturm, PhD
    Associate Professor, Neurology, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 104 research publications. Research interests: emotion · neurodegenerative disease · frontotemporal dementia · Alzheimer's disease · autonomic nervous system · affective neuroscience


accepting new patients by invitation only
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Expecting 100 study participants
Last Updated