Amygdala and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Are Inversely Coupled during Regulation of Negative Affect and Predict the Diurnal Pattern of Cortisol Secretion among Older Adults
ABSTRACT Among younger adults, the ability to willfully regulate negative affect, enabling effective responses to stressful experiences, engages regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala. Because regions of PFC and the amygdala are known to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, here we test whether PFC and amygdala responses during emotion regulation predict the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol secretion. We also test whether PFC and amygdala regions are engaged during emotion regulation in older (62- to 64-year-old) rather than younger individuals. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging as participants regulated (increased or decreased) their affective responses or attended to negative picture stimuli. We also collected saliva samples for 1 week at home for cortisol assay. Consistent with previous work in younger samples, increasing negative affect resulted in ventral lateral, dorsolateral, and dorsomedial regions of PFC and amygdala activation. In contrast to previous work, decreasing negative affect did not produce the predicted robust pattern of higher PFC and lower amygdala activation. Individuals demonstrating the predicted effect (decrease < attend in the amygdala), however, exhibited higher signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) for the same contrast. Furthermore, participants displaying higher VMPFC and lower amygdala signal when decreasing compared with the attention control condition evidenced steeper, more normative declines in cortisol over the course of the day. Individual differences yielded the predicted link between brain function while reducing negative affect in the laboratory and diurnal regulation of endocrine activity in the home environment.
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ABSTRACT: Although kindness-based contemplative practices are increasingly employed by clinicians and cognitive researchers to enhance prosocial emotions, social cognitive skills, and well-being, and as a tool to understand the basic workings of the social mind, we lack a coherent theoretical model with which to test the mechanisms by which kindness-based meditation may alter the brain and body. Here, we link contemplative accounts of compassion and loving-kindness practices with research from social cognitive neuroscience and social psychology to generate predictions about how diverse practices may alter brain structure and function and related aspects of social cognition. Contingent on the nuances of the practice, kindness-based meditation may enhance the neural systems related to faster and more basic perceptual or motor simulation processes, simulation of another's affective body state, slower and higher-level perspective-taking, modulatory processes such as emotion regulation and self/other discrimination, and combinations thereof.This theoretical model will be discussed alongside best practices for testing such a model and potential implications and applications of future work.Frontiers in Psychology 03/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00109 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The first part of this paper describes the long history of the concept of Mindfulness. Contrary to the belief that Mindfulness only has Buddhist and Hindu origins, it is also rooted in Jewish, Islamic and Christian religions. Furthermore, western philosophers have described a mindful path to become more aware of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness can be considered as a universal human ability embodied to foster clear thinking and open-heartedness. As such, this form of being requires no particular religious or cultural belief system. The current acceptance of what a mindful path is, refers to a psychological quality that involves bringing one's complete attention to present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, in a particular way: in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. Although such a definition is well accepted in France, the French translation for Mindfulness is not easy to use: being conscious and being aware are translated with the same French word. The French language fails to clearly separate the dimensional attributes of a mindful subject from the ways for developing mindfulness through formal meditation practice. In line with this conception, stability and assessments of Mindfulness mainly were examined. How this disposition allows the development of concentration, attention and acceptance moment by moment in a nonjudgmental way is described in the second part. Particular attention is paid to its positive effects in several aspects of mental and physical health. In particular, positive effects on the ability to cope with stress are described from a physiological point of view. Third, this article intends to present neurobiological aspects currently proposed to explain the benefits of Mindfulness meditation. Modifications of cerebral networks and neurobiological functioning are described in relation to expertise in meditation practice. The hypothesis of the role of meditation on neuroplasticity is also discussed. Furthermore, the specific impact of Mindfulness meditation practice on these mechanisms will be considered in comparison with relaxation techniques. With the increasing growth of well-designed and well-controlled meditation research, however, future studies will be needed to compare between different meditation techniques. This will enable researchers to outline the effects of the technique-specific differences on behavior, cognitive function, underlying physiology and neurobiology and clinical effectiveness. Finally, the most recent data on the changes in functioning of a resting brain (Brain Default Mode) induced by a Mindfulness practice, demonstrate differences in the default-mode network that are consistent with decreased mind-wandering. That is a way to better understand possible neural mechanisms of meditation for health benefits of Mindfulness.L Encéphale 12/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.encep.2014.08.006 · 0.60 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background. Severe stress in social situations is a core symptom of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Connectivity between the amygdala and cortical regions is thought to be important for emotion regulation, a function that is compromised in SAD. However, it has never been tested if and how this connectivity pattern changes under conditions of stress-inducing social evaluative threat. Here we investigate changes in cortical-amygdala coupling in SAD during the anticipation of giving a public speech. Method. Twenty individuals with SAD and age-, gender- and education-matched controls (n = 20) participated in this study. During the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session, participants underwent three 'resting-state' fMRI scans: one before, one during, and one after the anticipation of giving a public speech. Functional connectivity between cortical emotion regulation regions and the amygdala was investigated. Results. Compared to controls, SAD participants showed reduced functional integration between cortical emotion regulation regions and the amygdala during the public speech anticipation. Moreover, in SAD participants cortical-amygdala connectivity changes correlated with social anxiety symptom severity. Conclusions. The distinctive pattern of cortical-amygdala connectivity suggests less effective cortical-subcortical communication during social stress-provoking situations in SAD.Psychological Medicine 11/2014; 45(07):1-9. DOI:10.1017/S0033291714002657 · 5.43 Impact Factor