Neural Circuitry of Emotional and Cognitive Conflict Revealed through Facial Expressions
ABSTRACT Neural systems underlying conflict processing have been well studied in the cognitive realm, but the extent to which these overlap with those underlying emotional conflict processing remains unclear. A novel adaptation of the AX Continuous Performance Task (AX-CPT), a stimulus-response incompatibility paradigm, was examined that permits close comparison of emotional and cognitive conflict conditions, through the use of affectively-valenced facial expressions as the response modality.
Brain activity was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the emotional AX-CPT. Emotional conflict was manipulated on a trial-by-trial basis, by requiring contextually pre-cued facial expressions to emotional probe stimuli (IAPS images) that were either affectively compatible (low-conflict) or incompatible (high-conflict). The emotion condition was contrasted against a matched cognitive condition that was identical in all respects, except that probe stimuli were emotionally neutral. Components of the brain cognitive control network, including dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), showed conflict-related activation increases in both conditions, but with higher activity during emotion conditions. In contrast, emotion conflict effects were not found in regions associated with affective processing, such as rostral ACC.
These activation patterns provide evidence for a domain-general neural system that is active for both emotional and cognitive conflict processing. In line with previous behavioural evidence, greatest activity in these brain regions occurred when both emotional and cognitive influences additively combined to produce increased interference.
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ABSTRACT: Our ability to make sense of emotional cues is of paramount importance for understanding state of mind and communicative intent. However, emotional cues often conflict with each other; this presents a significant challenge for people with schizophrenia. We conducted a theoretical review to determine the extent and types of impaired processing of emotion-related conflict in schizophrenia; we evaluated the relationship with medication and symptoms, and considered possible mediatory mechanisms. The literature established that people with schizophrenia demonstrated impaired function: (i) when passively exposed to emotion cues whilst performing an unrelated task, (ii) when selectively attending to one source of emotion cues whilst trying to ignore interference from another source, and (iii) when trying to resolve conflicting emotion cues and judge meta-communicative intent. These deficits showed associations with both negative and positive symptoms. There was limited evidence for antipsychotic medications attenuating impaired emotion perception when there are conflicting cues, with further direct research needed. Impaired attentional control and context processing may underlie some of the observed impairments. Neuroanatomical correlates are likely to involve interhemispheric transfer via the corpus callosum, limbic regions such as the amygdala, and possibly dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex through their role in conflict processing.Psychiatry Research 08/2014; 220(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.07.077 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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07/2013, Supervisor: María Jesús Funes & Juan Lupiáñez