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.
SourceAvailable from: PubMed Central[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: In this prospective, longitudinal study of young children, we examined whether a history of preschool generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and/or social phobia is associated with amygdala-prefrontal dysregulation at school-age. As an exploratory analysis, we investigated whether distinct anxiety disorders differ in the patterns of this amygdala-prefrontal dysregulation. Participants were children taking part in a 5-year study of early childhood brain development and anxiety disorders. Preschool symptoms of generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and social phobia were assessed with the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA) in the first wave of the study when the children were between 2 and 5 years old. The PAPA was repeated at age 6. We conducted functional MRIs when the children were 5.5 to 9.5 year old to assess neural responses to viewing of angry and fearful faces. A history of preschool social phobia predicted less school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ventral prefrontal cortices to angry faces. Preschool generalized anxiety predicted less functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsal prefrontal cortices in response to fearful faces. Finally, a history of preschool separation anxiety predicted less school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ventral prefrontal cortices to angry faces and greater school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsal prefrontal cortices to angry faces. Our results suggest that there are enduring neurobiological effects associated with a history of preschool anxiety, which occur over-and-above the effect of subsequent emotional symptoms. Our results also provide preliminary evidence for the neurobiological differentiation of specific preschool anxiety disorders.PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(1):e0116854. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116854 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: To better understand the effects of emotional valence on autobiographical memory (AM), the present study compared behavioral performance and neural activation in positive and negative AMs at different levels of remoteness (the time-interval between encoding and retrieving) in a sample of Chinese older females. The behavioral results revealed that older females held a positivity bias in emotional AM in the form of an obvious trend of higher level of vividness when retrieving positive AMs compared with negative AMs. At the neural level, a de-lateralized neural network, covering the core AM system and the affect processing system, was found to be associated with emotional AM. Within the network, increased activation of a prefrontal cortex/anterior cingulate cortex (PFC/ACC) control system was found when processing negative recent AMs compared with positive recent AMs; increased activation of the somatosensory area was found with positive remote AMs compared with negative remote AMs. On the basis of these results, we suggest that the positivity bias of the older adults in recent AMs may be due to the use of an emotion regulation or control system (involving PFC/ACC) against negative AMs; in contrast, for remote AMs, the positivity bias may be due to better access to the positive remote memory details than the negative remote memory details.The International Journal of Aging and Human Development 01/2014; 79(1):23-54. DOI:10.2190/AG.79.1.b · 0.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
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