To investigate the neural basis of self-evaluation across time as a function of emotional valence, event-related potentials were recorded among participants instructed to make self-reference judgments when evaluating their past, present and future selves. Results showed that, when evaluating present and past selves, negative words elicited a more positive ERP deflection in the time window between 650 ms and 800 ms (LPC) relative to positive words. However, when evaluating the future selves, there was no significant difference on the amplitude of the LPC evoked by negative versus positive words. Findings provided evidence for the effect of emotional valence on the self across time at a neurophysiological level and identified the time course of negative bias in the temporal self. More specifically, people were inclined to be relatively less negative and optimistic about their future self but had mixed emotions about past and present selves
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