Article

Stress shifts brain activation towards ventral ‘affective’ areas during emotional distraction

Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Postzone C2-S, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 5.88). 04/2011; 7(4):403-12. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsr024
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Acute stress has been shown to impair working memory (WM), and to decrease prefrontal activation during WM in healthy humans. Stress also enhances amygdala responses towards emotional stimuli. Stress might thus be specifically detrimental to WM when one is distracted by emotional stimuli. Usually, emotional stimuli presented as distracters in a WM task slow down performance, while evoking more activation in ventral 'affective' brain areas, and a relative deactivation in dorsal 'executive' areas. We hypothesized that after acute social stress, this reciprocal dorsal-ventral pattern would be shifted towards greater increase of ventral 'affective' activation during emotional distraction, while impairing WM performance. To investigate this, 34 healthy men, randomly assigned to a social stress or control condition, performed a Sternberg WM task with emotional and neutral distracters inside an MRI scanner. Results showed that WM performance after stress tended to be slower during emotional distraction. Brain activations during emotional distraction was enhanced in ventral affective areas, while dorsal executive areas tended to show less deactivation after stress. These results suggest that acute stress shifts priority towards processing of emotionally significant stimuli, at the cost of WM performance.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Philip Spinhoven, Sep 05, 2015
2 Followers
 · 
144 Views
 · 
116 Downloads
  • Source
    • "Follow-up investigations (Denkova et al., 2010; Dolcos et al., 2008; Dolcos, Miller, Kragel, Jha, & McCarthy, 2007; Iordan, Dolcos, Denkova, et al., 2013) provided additional evidence that these patterns of neural activity are specific to emotional distraction, and further explored the specificity of this response to different types of distracters (reviewed in Iordan, Dolcos, & Dolcos, 2013). In addition, other investigations using similar (Anticevic et al., 2010; Diaz et al., 2011; Oei et al., 2012) or derived different tasks (Mitchell et al., 2008; Wang, McCarthy, Song, & Labar, 2005; Yamasaki, LaBar, & McCarthy, 2002) in healthy participants, and evidence from clinical research (Anticevic, Repovs, Corlett, & Barch, 2011; Morey et al., 2009) also support this ventro-dorsal dissociation in response to emotional distraction, hence highlighting the replicability and generalizability of this dissociation (Iordan et al, 2013). An important factor influencing the impairing effect of emotion is the capacity to engage coping mechanisms in order to resist emotional distraction. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotions can have both enhancing and impairing effects on various cognitive processes, from lower (e.g., perceptual) to higher level (e.g., mnemonic and executive) processes. The present article discusses emerging brain imaging evidence linking these opposing effects of emotion, which points to overlapping and dissociable neural systems involving both bottom-up and top-down mechanisms. The link between the enhancing and impairing effects is also discussed in a clinical context, with a focus on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where these opposing effects tend to co-occur, are exacerbated, and are detrimental. Overall, the present review highlights the need to consider together enhancing and impairing effects of emotion on cognition in studies investigating emotion–cognition interactions.
    Emotion Review 10/2014; 6(4):362-375. DOI:10.1177/1754073914536449 · 2.90 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "As such the lack of modulation in the P3 suggests that these processes remain unaffected by psychological stress in this paradigm. What seems to be affected by stress, and also corroborates the interpretation by Steinhauser et al. (2007), are response selection processes (see also Oei et al., 2012). The fronto-central N2 showed SCD interval dependent modulations of stress. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stress has been shown to modulate a number of cognitive processes including action control. These functions are important in daily life and are mediated by various cognitive subprocesses. However, it is unknown if stress affects the whole processing cascade, or exerts specific effects on a restricted subset of processes involved in the chaining of actions. We examine the effects of stress on action selection processes in a stop-change paradigm and apply event-related potentials (ERPs) combined with source localization analysis to examine potentially restricted effects of stress on subprocesses mediating action cascading. The results show that attentional selection processes, as well as processes related to allocation of processing resources were not affected by stress. Stress only seems to affect response selection functions during action cascading and leads to slowing of responses when two actions are executed in succession. These changes are related to the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Changes in response selection were predictable on the basis of individual salivary cortisol levels. The results show that stress does not affect the whole processing cascade involved in the cascading of different actions, but seems to exert circumscribed effects on response selection processes which have previously been shown to depend on dopaminergic neural transmission.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 04/2014; 42:178–187. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.01.022 · 5.59 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Therefore, and together with findings of CEM-related amygdala hyperactivity to facial expressions (McCrory et al., 2011, 2013; Bogdan et al., 2012; Dannlowski, et al. 2012a,b; Van Harmelen et al., 2013), these findings suggest that individuals reporting CEM show hypoactive mPFC activation during cognitive processing/evaluation for meaning/content (subserved by the mPFC) and hyperactive amygdala activation in response to emotionally demanding tasks or contexts, which require amygdala processing. Interestingly, this pattern of findings resembles those of studies on the impact of acute stress exposure, showing that stress exposure induces a shift from higher cognitive to more habitual/emotional processes and related neural systems (PFC vs limbic regions) (Hermans et al., 2011; Oei et al., 2012). Individuals reporting CEM showed similar response accuracy and RTs for positive, negative and neutral words. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Childhood Emotional Maltreatment (CEM) has adverse effects on medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) morphology, a structure that is crucial for cognitive functioning and (emotional) memory, and which modulates the limbic system. In addition, CEM has been linked to amygdala hyperactivity during emotional face processing. However, no study has yet investigated the functional neural correlates of neutral and emotional memory in adults reporting CEM. Using fMRI, we investigated CEM-related differential activations in mPFC during the encoding and recognition of positive, negative, and neutral words. The sample (N=194) consisted of patients with depression and/or anxiety disorders and Healthy Controls (HC) reporting CEM (n=96), and patients and HC reporting No Abuse (n=98). We found a consistent pattern of mPFC hypoactivation during encoding and recognition of positive, negative, and neutral words in individuals reporting CEM. These results were not explained by psychopathology or severity of depression or anxiety symptoms, nor by gender, level of neuroticism, parental psychopathology, negative life events, antidepressant use, or decreased mPFC volume in the CEM group. These findings indicate mPFC hypoactivity in individuals reporting CEM during emotional and neutral memory encoding and recognition. Our findings suggest that CEM may increase individuals' risk to the development of psychopathology on differential levels of processing in the brain; blunted mPFC activation during higher order processing and enhanced amygdala activation during automatic/lower order emotion processing. These findings are vital in understanding the long-term consequences of CEM.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 02/2014; 9(12). DOI:10.1093/scan/nsu008 · 5.88 Impact Factor
Show more