Biological Substrates of Emotional Reactivity and Regulation in Adolescence During an Emotional Go-Nogo Task

The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York, USA.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 06/2008; 63(10):927-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.03.015
Source: PubMed


Adolescence is a transition period from childhood to adulthood that is often characterized by emotional instability. This period is also a time of increased incidence of anxiety and depression, underscoring the importance of understanding biological substrates of behavioral and emotion regulation during adolescence. Developmental changes in the brain in concert with individual predispositions for anxiety might underlie the increased risk for poor outcomes reported during adolescence. We tested the hypothesis that difficulties in regulating behavior in emotional contexts in adolescents might be due to competition between heightened activity in subcortical emotional processing systems and immature top-down prefrontal systems. Individual differences in emotional reactivity might put some teens at greater risk during this sensitive transition in development.
We examined the association between emotion regulation and frontoamygdala circuitry in 60 children, adolescents, and adults with an emotional go-nogo paradigm. We went beyond examining the magnitude of neural activity and focused on neural adaptation within this circuitry across time with functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Adolescents showed exaggerated amygdala activity relative to children and adults. This age-related difference decreased with repeated exposures to the stimuli, and individual differences in self-ratings of anxiety predicted the extent of adaptation or habituation in amygdala. Individuals with higher trait anxiety showed less habituation over repeated exposures. This failure to habituate was associated with less functional connectivity between ventral prefrontal cortex and amygdala.
These findings suggest that exaggerated emotional reactivity during adolescence might increase the need for top-down control and put individuals with less control at greater risk for poor outcomes.

Download full-text


Available from: Adriana Galvan,
    • "(A) Timing and example stimuli corresponding to a calm (target) and fear (non-target) condition. Stimuli were presented for 500 ms and followed by a variable interstimulus interval of 2000–14 500 ms [reprinted from Hare et al. (2008) "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The emotional and cognitive vulnerabilities that precede the development of bipolar disorder are poorly understood. The inferior frontal gyrus-a key cortical hub for the integration of cognitive and emotional processes-exhibits both structural and functional changes in bipolar disorder, and is also functionally impaired in unaffected first-degree relatives, showing diminished engagement during inhibition of threat-related emotional stimuli. We hypothesized that this functional impairment of the inferior frontal gyrus in those at genetic risk of bipolar disorder reflects the dysfunction of broader network dynamics underlying the coordination of emotion perception and cognitive control. To test this, we studied effective connectivity in functional magnetic resonance imaging data acquired from 41 first-degree relatives of patients with bipolar disorder, 45 matched healthy controls and 55 participants with established bipolar disorder. Dynamic causal modelling was used to model the neuronal interaction between key regions associated with fear perception (the anterior cingulate), inhibition (the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) and the region upon which these influences converge, namely the inferior frontal gyrus. Network models that embodied non-linear, hierarchical relationships were the most strongly supported by data from our healthy control and bipolar participants. We observed a marked difference in the hierarchical influence of the anterior cingulate on the effective connectivity from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to the inferior frontal gyrus that is unique to the at-risk cohort. Non-specific, non-hierarchical mechanisms appear to compensate for this network disturbance. We thus establish a specific network disturbance suggesting dysfunction in the processes that support hierarchical relationships between emotion and cognitive control in those at high genetic risk for bipolar disorder.
    Brain 11/2015; 138(11):3427-3439. DOI:10.1093/brain/awv261 · 9.20 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "According to this idea, the early habituation and internalization of moral norms through repetitive behavioral training, followed by the cultivation of phronesis, are required for the development of moral character (Carr, 2008; Kristjánsson, 2014). Some neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that one of the most salient aspects of moral development at the neural level during early-childhood through early-adolescence is that brain regions associated with the motivational and reward system (e.g., amygdala, nucleus accumbens, orbitofrontal cortex, ventral striatum), which engages in the habituation and internalization of rules (Blair, 2007; Wilson & Rolls, 2005), develop earlier than regions associated with sophisticated reasoning (Decety, Michalska, & Kinzler, 2012; Galvan et al., 2006; Hare et al., 2008). Then, in regions correlated with reasoning based on prudence, self-control, and sophisticated self-reflective processes (e.g., lateral prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex) (Buckner, Andrews-Hanna, & Schacter, 2008; Immordino-Yang, Christodoulou, & Singh, 2012; Moll et al., 2007), that correspond to the concept of phronesis in Aristotelian philosophy, the activity becomes salient beyond adolescence (Casey, Jones, & Hare, 2008; Harenski, Harenski, Shane, & Kiehl, 2012; Wright, Matlen, Baym, Ferrer, & Bunge, 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The main purpose of this essay is to explore the relation between Aristotelian moral philosophy, moral psychology, and recent neurosciences. This essay discusses whether motivational externalism can be supported by recent neuroscientific evidence. I propose that given various neurosurgical studies from Phineas Gage’s case study to ventromedial prefrontal cortical (VMPFC) lesion experiments, the findings can refute motivational internalism, and can support motivational externalists. Those studies have shown that developed and sophisticated moral reasoning does not necessarily generate moral motivation and actual moral behavior at the end. Instead, there is a motivational force that drives our moral behavior independent from reasoning-based moral judgment from the vantage point of neurosciences. Second, I demonstrate whether or not findings in developmental neuroscience correspond to moral developmental theory inspired by Aristotelian ethics. Recent studies conducted by developmental neuroscientists show that the developmental process, early habituation followed by development of reasoning, actually occurs in human brains. In addition, intervention-based neuroimaging studies would give us inspiration about how the development of habit and reasoning can be stimulated by interventions by demonstrating that neural-level changes are occurring during the course of the interventions. I assert that recent neuroscience studies can support Aristotelian moral philosophy and developmental psychology.
    The 3rd Annual Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues conference, Oxford; 10/2015
  • Source
    • "However, the Pe was unrelated to either startle or resting parietal asymmetry, which indicates that the association between defensive reactivity and cognitive control processes was specific to those indexed by the ERN. The negative association between cognitive control and defensive reactivity is entirely consistent with the notion of top-down emotion regulation observed in adolescence and adults (Hare et al., 2008; Ochsner and Gross, 2005). That is, children who exhibited poor cognitive control (smaller ERN) also showed higher defensive reactivity (larger startle and greater right relative to left parietal activity). "

Show more