Attention to aversive emotion and specific activation of the right insula and right somatosensory cortex

Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Jena, Germany.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 10/2010; 54(3):2534-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.010
Source: PubMed


The evaluation of emotional stimuli is based on different levels of information processing, ranging from rather automatic processes to focused attention to the emotional relevance of stimuli. The role of specific brain areas for these processes is a matter of debate. In this event-related fMRI study, we varied the information processing mode of participants exposed to aversive and neutral pictures. Based on four different tasks, participants' attentional focus onto the emotional quality of the stimuli and the own emotional involvement was increased systematically across tasks. Regardless of task, stronger activation to threatening vs. neutral pictures was found in several regions such as the amygdala, anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex, primary somatosensory cortex and medial prefrontal cortex. However, there was a parametric increase of activation with increasing attention to one's own emotion specifically in the right posterior insula and right primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, i.e. in areas implicated in self-awareness of a person's own body. These findings are in accordance with theories suggesting a crucial role of the perception of bodily states for emotional experiences.

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    • ", 1998 ) . For example , fear - related pictures increase activation in the right posterior insula and secondary somatosensory cortex ( Straube and Miltner , 2011 ) . Taken together , activation within the amygdala and insula in response to disharmonious combinations might have important biological implications . "
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    ABSTRACT: Observing paired colors with a different hue (in terms of chroma and lightness) engenders pleasantness from such harmonious combinations; however, negative reactions can emerge from disharmonious combinations. Currently, neural mechanisms underlying the esthetic and emotional aspects of color perception remain unknown. The current study reports evidence regarding the neural correlates of color harmony and disharmony. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess brain regions activated by harmonious or disharmonious color combinations in comparison to other stimuli. Results showed that the left medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and left amygdala were activated when participants observed harmonious and disharmonious stimuli, respectively. Taken together, these findings suggest that color disharmony may depend on stimulus properties and more automatic neural processes mediated by the amygdala, whereas color harmony is harder to discriminate based on color characteristics and is reflected by the esthetic value represented in the mOFC. This study has a limitation that we could not exclude the effect of preference for color combination, which has a strong positive correlation with color harmony.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 07/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00382 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Medial prefrontal cortex areas have been proposed to be linked to explicit emotional evaluation, emotional-cognitive interactions, self-referential processing, and emotion-regulation [21-26]. The insula seems to be involved in interoception and representation of bodily states [27-29] and might support aversive feelings by evaluating arousal responses [28,30,31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Previous functional imaging studies using symptom provocation in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) reported inconsistent findings, which might be at least partially related to different time-dependent activation profiles in different brain areas. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we used a novel video-based symptom provocation design in order to investigate the magnitude and time course of activation in different brain areas in 20 SAD patients and 20 healthy controls. Results The disorder-related videos induced increased anxiety in patients with SAD as compared to healthy controls. Analyses of brain activation to disorder-related versus neutral video clips revealed amygdala activation during the first but not during the second half of the clips in patients as compared to controls. In contrast, the activation in the insula showed a reversed pattern with increased activation during the second but not during the first half of the video clips. Furthermore, a cluster in the anterior dorsal anterior cingulate cortex showed a sustained response for the entire duration of the videos. Conclusions The present findings suggest that different regions of the fear network show differential temporal response patterns during video-induced symptom provocation in SAD. While the amygdala is involved during initial threat processing, the insula seems to be more involved during subsequent anxiety responses. In accordance with cognitive models of SAD, a medial prefrontal region engaged in emotional-cognitive interactions is generally hyperactivated.
    Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders 04/2014; 4(1):6. DOI:10.1186/2045-5380-4-6
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    • "However, findings are inconsistent and the role of task conditions is unclear. Even if insula responses can be detected during implicit tasks (Straube et al., 2004), activation in this area increases with increasing attention to own emotions (Straube and Miltner, 2011) and is more strongly associated with symptom severity of SAD during explicit emotion tasks (Schmidt et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: It has been proposed that social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with automatic information processing biases resulting in hypersensitivity to signals of social threat such as negative facial expressions. However, the nature and extent of automatic processes in SAD on the behavioral and neural level is not entirely clear yet. The present review summarizes neuroscientific findings on automatic processing of facial threat but also other disorder-related stimuli such as emotional prosody or negative words in SAD. We review initial evidence for automatic activation of the amygdala, insula, and sensory cortices as well as for automatic early electrophysiological components. However, findings vary depending on tasks, stimuli, and neuroscientific methods. Only few studies set out to examine automatic neural processes directly and systematic attempts are as yet lacking. We suggest that future studies should: (1) use different stimulus modalities, (2) examine different emotional expressions, (3) compare findings in SAD with other anxiety disorders, (4) use more sophisticated experimental designs to investigate features of automaticity systematically, and (5) combine different neuroscientific methods (such as functional neuroimaging and electrophysiology). Finally, the understanding of neural automatic processes could also provide hints for therapeutic approaches.
    Frontiers in Psychology 05/2013; 4:282. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00282 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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