Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Details of our brain's upstairs-downstairs emotion regulation.

Morawetz et al. (open source) offer a study probing how our brain's prefrontal upstairs modulates the up-regulation or down-regulation of our emotional reactivity downstairs, in the amygdala:
The ability to voluntarily regulate our emotional response to threatening and highly arousing stimuli by using cognitive reappraisal strategies is essential for our mental and physical well-being. This might be achieved by prefrontal brain regions (e.g. inferior frontal gyrus, IFG) down-regulating activity in the amygdala. It is unknown, to which degree effective connectivity within the emotion-regulation network is linked to individual differences in reappraisal skills. Using psychophysiological interaction analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, we examined changes in inter-regional connectivity between the amygdala and IFG with other brain regions during reappraisal of emotional responses and used emotion regulation success as an explicit regressor. During down-regulation of emotion, reappraisal success correlated with effective connectivity between IFG with dorsolateral, dorsomedial and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC). During up-regulation of emotion, effective coupling between IFG with anterior cingulate cortex, dorsomedial and ventromedial PFC as well as the amygdala correlated with reappraisal success. Activity in the amygdala covaried with activity in lateral and medial prefrontal regions during the up-regulation of emotion and correlated with reappraisal success. These results suggest that successful reappraisal is linked to changes in effective connectivity between two systems, prefrontal cognitive control regions and regions crucially involved in emotional evaluation.

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