Resolving Emotional Conflict: A Role for the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Modulating Activity in the Amygdala

Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University Medical Center, Neurological Institute Box 108, 710 West 168th Street, New York, New York 10032, USA.
Neuron (Impact Factor: 15.98). 10/2006; 51(6):871-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.07.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Effective mental functioning requires that cognition be protected from emotional conflict due to interference by task-irrelevant emotionally salient stimuli. The neural mechanisms by which the brain detects and resolves emotional conflict are still largely unknown, however. Drawing on the classic Stroop conflict task, we developed a protocol that allowed us to dissociate the generation and monitoring of emotional conflict from its resolution. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we find that activity in the amygdala and dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices reflects the amount of emotional conflict. By contrast, the resolution of emotional conflict is associated with activation of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Activation of the rostral cingulate is predicted by the amount of previous-trial conflict-related neural activity and is accompanied by a simultaneous and correlated reduction of amygdalar activity. These data suggest that emotional conflict is resolved through top-down inhibition of amygdalar activity by the rostral cingulate cortex.

Download full-text


Available from: Tobias Egner, Aug 25, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    • "ctive measure . The amygdala response to emotional stimuli is regulated by prefrontal cortical regions ( Milad and Quirk , 2012 ) with ven - trolateral ( VLPFC ) , dorsolateral ( DLPFC ) , medial ( mPFC ) , and rostral anterior cingulate cortex ( ACC ) , all engaged in complex regulation of affect and appraisal of emotional cues ( Mayberg , 1997 ; Etkin et al . , 2006 ; Kalisch , 2009 ; Ochsner et al . , 2012 ; Prater et al . , 2013 ) . Not surprisingly , aberrant function of prefrontal regulatory areas , in addition to the amygdala , has also been linked to abnormal emotional responses and psychopathological states like anxiety disorders ( Etkin and Wager , 2007 ; Shin and Liber - zon , 2010 ) . Eme"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Childhood poverty negatively impacts physical and mental health in adulthood. Altered brain development in response to social and environmental factors associated with poverty likely contributes to this effect, engendering maladaptive patterns of social attribution and/or elevated physiological stress. In this fMRI study, we examined the association between childhood poverty and neural processing of social signals (i.e., emotional faces) in adulthood. 52 subjects from a longitudinal prospective study recruited as children, participated in a brain imaging study at 23-25 years of age using the Emotional Faces Assessment Task (EFAT). Childhood poverty, independent of concurrent adult income, was associated with higher amygdala and mPFC responses to threat vs. happy faces. Also, childhood poverty was associated with decreased functional connectivity between left amygdala and mPFC. This study is unique because it prospectively links childhood poverty to emotional processing during adulthood, suggesting a candidate neural mechanism for negative social-emotional bias. Adults who grew up poor appear to be more sensitive to social threat cues and less sensitive to positive social cues.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 06/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00154 · 4.16 Impact Factor
    • "In particular, AVP increased ACC/mPFC and lateral temporal lobe response to negative social interactions to a greater extent in participants scoring high on Neuroticism compared to those scoring low on Neuroticism. ACC/mPFC is involved in controlled, top-down regulation of negative emotional processing (Etkin, et al., 2011) and is activated when emotional conflict needs to be overridden (Egner et al., 2008; Etkin et al., 2006) or when participants reappraise their emotional feelings (Kanske et al., 2010; Urry et al., 2006). Furthermore, lateral temporal lobe is Fig. 4. Interaction between AVP treatment and Neuroticism on the BOLD response to CC outcomes. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neuroticism is a fundamental personality trait associated with proneness to feel negative affect. Here we ask how Neuroticism influences the neural response to positive and negative social interactions and how Neuroticism modulates the effect of intranasal oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) on the neural response to social interactions. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 153 male participants were randomized to receive 24 IU intranasal OT, 20 IU AVP or placebo. Afterwards, they were imaged with fMRI while playing an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma Game. On a different day, subjects completed the NEO personality inventory to measure Neuroticism. Neuroticism was positively correlated with the neural response to negative social interactions in the anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex and with the neural response to positive social interactions in the insula, indicating that Neuroticism modulates neuropsychological processing of both negative and positive social interactions. Neuroticism did not modulate the effect of intranasal OT treatment on the neural response to either positive or negative social interactions. On the other hand, AVP treatment significantly interacted with Neuroticism to modulate the BOLD response to both positive and negative social interactions. Specifically, AVP increased anterior cingulate cortex/ medial prefrontal cortex and lateral temporal lobe responses to negative social interactions to a greater extent in participants scoring high rather than low on Neuroticism. AVP also increased the insula response to positive social interactions to a greater extent in participants scoring high rather than low on Neuroticism. These results imply that AVP may increase emotion regulation in response to negative social interactions and the salience of positive social interactions to a greater extent in individuals high compared to low in Neuroticism. The current findings urge caution against uniform clinical application of nonapeptides and suggest that their efficacy may vary as a function of personality. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Neuropsychologia 05/2015; 73. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.05.004 · 3.45 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Consistent with other behavioral studies of emotional con - flict regulation ( Etkin et al . , 2006 , 2010 ) , this study found that FH+ adolescents were unable to adapt to emotional con - flict during incongruent trials while conflict adaptation dur - ing congruent trials was similar in both FH+ and FH− groups . This demonstrates that the deficit of parental SUD in emotional conflict adaptation and cognitive control may have been tra"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We aimed to uncover differences in brain circuits of adolescents with parental positive or negative histories of substance use disorders (SUD), when performing a task that elicits emotional conflict, testing whether the brain circuits could serve as endophenotype markers to distinguish these adolescents. We acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 11 adolescents with a positive familial history of SUD (FH+ group) and seven adolescents with a negative familial history of SUD (FH- group) when performing an emotional stroop task. We extracted brain features from the conflict-related contrast images in group level analyses and granger causality indices (GCIs) that measure the causal interactions among regions. Support vector machine (SVM) was applied to classify the FH+ and FH- adolescents. Adolescents with FH+ showed greater activity and weaker connectivity related to emotional conflict, decision making and reward system including anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), prefrontal cortex (PFC), and ventral tegmental area (VTA). High classification accuracies were achieved with leave-one-out cross validation (89.75% for the maximum conflict, 96.71% when combining maximum conflict and general conflict contrast, 97.28% when combining activity of the two contrasts and GCIs). Individual contributions of the brain features to the classification were further investigated, indicating that activation in PFC, ACC, VTA and effective connectivity from PFC to ACC play the most important roles. We concluded that fundamental differences of neural substrates underlying cognitive behaviors of adolescents with parental positive or negative histories of SUD provide new insight into potential neurobiological mechanisms contributing to the elevated risk of FH+ individuals for developing SUD.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 04/2015; 9:219. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00219 · 2.90 Impact Factor
Show more