Daily we cope with upcoming potentially disadvantageous events. Therefore, it makes sense to be prepared for the worst case. Such a ‘pessimistic’ bias is reflected in brain activation during emotion processing. Healthy individuals underwent functional neuroimaging while viewing emotional stimuli that were earlier cued ambiguously or unambiguously concerning their emotional valence. Presentation of ambiguously announced pleasant pictures compared with unambiguously announced pleasant pictures resulted in increased activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal, premotor and temporal cortex, and in the caudate nucleus. This was not the case for the respective negative conditions. This indicates that pleasant stimuli after ambiguous cueing provided ‘unexpected’ emotional input, resulting in the adaptation of brain activity. It strengthens the hypothesis of a ‘pessimistic’ bias of brain activation toward ambiguous emotional events.