Emotion regulation in spider phobia: role of the medial prefrontal cortex.
ABSTRACT Phobic responses are strong emotional reactions towards phobic objects, which can be described as a deficit in the automatic regulation of emotions. Difficulties in the voluntary cognitive control of these emotions suggest a further phobia-specific deficit in effortful emotion regulation mechanisms. The actual study is based on this emotion regulation conceptualization of specific phobias. The aim is to investigate the neural correlates of these two emotion regulation deficits in spider phobics. Sixteen spider phobic females participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study in which they were asked to voluntarily up- and down-regulate their emotions elicited by spider and generally aversive pictures with a reappraisal strategy. In line with the hypothesis concerning an automatic emotion regulation deficit, increased activity in the insula and reduced activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex was observed. Furthermore, phobia-specific effortful regulation within phobics was associated with altered activity in medial prefrontal cortex areas. Altogether, these results suggest that spider phobic subjects are indeed characterized by a deficit in the automatic as well as the effortful regulation of emotions elicited by phobic compared with aversive stimuli. These two forms of phobic emotion regulation deficits are associated with altered activity in different medial prefrontal cortex subregions.
Article: Neural substrates for voluntary suppression of negative affect: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Successful control of affect partly depends on the capacity to modulate negative emotional responses through the use of cognitive strategies. Although the capacity to regulate emotions is critical to mental well-being, its neural substrates remain unclear. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to ascertain brain regions involved in the voluntary regulation of emotion and whether dynamic changes in negative emotional experience can modulate their activation. Fourteen healthy subjects were scanned while they either maintained the negative affect evoked by highly arousing and aversive pictures (e.g., experience naturally) or suppressed their affect using cognitive reappraisal. In addition to a condition-based analysis, online subjective ratings of intensity of negative affect were used as covariates of brain activity. Inhibition of negative affect was associated with activation of dorsal anterior cingulate, dorsal medial prefrontal, and lateral prefrontal cortices, and attenuation of brain activity within limbic regions (e.g., nucleus accumbens/extended amygdala). Furthermore, activity within dorsal anterior cingulate was inversely related to intensity of negative affect, whereas activation of the amygdala was positively covaried with increasing negative affect. These findings highlight a functional dissociation of corticolimbic brain responses, involving enhanced activation of prefrontal cortex and attenuation of limbic areas, during volitional suppression of negative emotion.Biological Psychiatry 03/2005; 57(3):210-9. · 8.28 Impact Factor