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: Jennifer S Mascaro[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
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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
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ABSTRACT: Purpose: To investigate whether prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning during ataxic gait is linked to compensatory mechanisms or to the typical intra-subject variability of the ataxic gait. Methods: Nineteen patients with chronic ataxia and fifteen healthy subjects were evaluated. The subjects were requested to walk along a straight distance of 10 meters while PFC oxygenation and gait parameters were assessed. PFC activity was evaluated by NIRO-200 while gait analysis was performed by the SMART-D500. To investigate the intra-subject variability of gait, we calculated the coefficient of multiple correlation (CMC) of the hip, knee and ankle kinematic waveforms furthermore, we evaluated the step width. Results: We observed a positive correlation between PFC bilateral oxygenation changes and the step width (r = 0.54; p = 0.02 for the right PFC, and r = 0.50; p = 0.03 for the left PFC). No correlation was found between PFC activity and CMC of the hip, knee and ankle waveforms. Conclusions: Our results suggest that PFC activity is linked to gait compensatory mechanisms more than to the variability of the joint kinematic parameters caused by a defective cerebellar control.Restorative neurology and neuroscience 01/2015; DOI:10.3233/RNN-140449 · 4.18 Impact Factor