Various prefrontal cortical regions have been shown to be activated during emotional stimulation, whereas neurochemical mechanisms underlying emotional processing in the prefrontal cortex remain unclear. We therefore investigated the influence of the GABA-A potentiator lorazepam on prefrontal cortical emotional—motor spatio-temporal activation pattern in a combined functional magnetic resonance imaging/magnetoencephalography study. Lorazepam led to the reversal in orbito-frontal activation pattern, a shift of the early magnetic field dipole from the orbito-frontal to medial prefrontal cortex, and alterations in premotor/motor cortical function during negative and positive emotional stimulation. It is concluded that negative emotional processing in the orbito-frontal cortex may be modulated either directly or indirectly by GABA-A receptors. Such a modulation of orbito-frontal cortical emotional function by lorazepam has to be distinguished from its effects on cortical motor function as being independent from the kind of processing either emotional or nonemotional.

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