Thursday, April 17, 2014

Training emotions - a brief video from The Brain Club

I received an email recently from "The Brain Club" pointing me to the series of brief video presentations they are developing over time. I thought the presentation by Amit Etkin at Stanford Univ. was very effective. I'm including that video in this post. It describes the results of a meta-analysis of many papers that shows that in anxious and depressed individuals the brain's amygdala, insula, and cingulate are over-reactive while the prefrontal cortex is under-reactive. (i.e. the downstairs is over-riding the upstairs of our brains.) Cognitive training exercises available on the web that reinforce a positivity bias and enhance working memory lessen this upstairs/downstairs imbalance, and a brief review by Subramaniam and Vinogradov shows MRI data indicating that it is accompanied by enhancement of medial prefrontal activity.


Here is a slightly larger version of the figure from the meta-analysis paper showing the downstair (yellow) and upstairs (blue) regions whose activity changes with training.

A more through summary of cognitive training for impaired neural systems can be found in Vinogradov et al.

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