Reflecting upon Feelings: An fMRI Study of Neural Systems Supporting the Attribution of Emotion to Self and Other

Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 4.09). 01/2005; 16(10):1746-72. DOI: 10.1162/0898929042947829
Source: PubMed


Understanding one's own and other individual's emotional states is essential for maintaining emotional equilibrium and strong social bonds. Although the neural substrates supporting ref lection upon one's own feelings have been investigated, no studies have directly examined attributions about the internal emotional states of others to determine whether common or distinct neural systems support these abilities. The present study sought to directly compare brain regions involved in judging one's own, as compared to another individual's, emotional state. Thirteen participants viewed mixed valence blocks of photos drawn from the International Affective Picture System while whole-brain fMRI data were collected. Preblock cues instructed participants to evaluate either their emotional response to each photo, the emotional state of the central figure in each photo, or (in a baseline condition) whether the photo was taken indoors or outdoors. Contrasts indicated (1) that both self and other judgments activated the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), the superior temporal gyrus, and the posterior cingulate/precuneus, (2) that self judgments selectively activated subregions of the MPFC and the left temporal cortex, whereas (3) other judgments selectively activated the left lateral prefrontal cortex (including Broca's area) and the medial occipital cortex. These results suggest (1) that self and other evaluation of emotion rely on a network of common mechanisms centered on the MPFC, which has been hypothesized to support mental state attributions in general, and (2) that medial and lateral PFC regions selectively recruited by self or other judgments may be involved in attention to, and elaboration of, internally as opposed to externally generated information.

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Available from: Sean Mackey, Aug 11, 2015
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    • "Giuliani et al., 2011; Zaki & Ochsner, 2012), affective responses to both positive and negative stimuli (i.e., putamen, cf. Philips et al., 2003; Surguladze et al., 2005), as well as areas involved in judging one's own emotions, as well as the emotions of others based on visual stimuli (i.e., posterior cingulate cortex, Ochsner et al., 2004; Zaki et al., 2010). Of note, as predicted, we also found evidence that the neural pattern of increased nonverbal cue processing, most strongly expressed among suppressors, is coordinated via frontoparietal cognitive control areas. "
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    ABSTRACT: Optimal social functioning occasionally requires concealment of one's emotions in order to meet one's immediate goals and environmental demands. However, because emotions serve an important communicative function, their habitual suppression disrupts the flow of social exchanges and, thus, incurs significant interpersonal costs. Evidence is accruing that the disruption in social interactions, linked to habitual expressive suppression use, stems not only from intrapersonal, but also from interpersonal causes, since the suppressors' restricted affective displays reportedly inhibit their interlocutors' emotionally expressive behaviors. However, expressive suppression use is not known to lead to clinically significant social impairments. One explanation may be that over the lifespan, individuals who habitually suppress their emotions come to compensate for their interlocutors' restrained expressive behaviors by developing an increased sensitivity to nonverbal affective cues. To probe this issue, the present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan healthy older women while they viewed silent videos of a male social target displaying nonverbal emotional behavior, together with a brief verbal description of the accompanying context, and then judged the target’s affect. As predicted, perceivers who reported greater habitual use of expressive suppression showed increased neural processing of nonverbal affective cues. This effect appeared to be coordinated in a top-down manner via cognitive control. Greater neural processing of nonverbal cues among perceivers who habitually suppress their emotions was linked to increased ventral striatum activity, suggestive of increased reward value/personal relevance ascribed to emotionally expressive nonverbal behaviors. These findings thus provide neural evidence broadly consistent with the hypothesized link between habitual use of expressive suppression and compensatory development of increased responsiveness to nonverbal affective cues, while also suggesting one explanation for the suppressors' poorer cognitive performance in social situations. Moreover, our results point to a potential neural mechanism supporting the development and perpetuation of expressive suppression as an emotion regulation strategy.
    Neuropsychologia 09/2015; In press. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.09.013 · 3.30 Impact Factor
    • "Prefrontal cortex is known to be involved in complex cognitive behavior and decision making [Koechlin and Hyafil, 2007; Koechlin et al., 2003]. Precuneus plays a key role in highly integrated tasks, including episodic memory retrieval, selfreferential processes, and consciousness [Laureys et al., 2004; Lundstrom et al., 2005; Ochsner et al., 2004]. Cingulate cortex is an integral part of the limbic system and active in a variety of cognitive functions such as emotion, learning and memory [Bush et al., 2000]. "
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    ABSTRACT: While detecting genetic variations underlying brain structures helps reveal mechanisms of neural disorders, high data dimensionality poses a major challenge for imaging genomic association studies. In this work, we present the application of a recently proposed approach, parallel independent component analysis with reference (pICA-R), to investigate genomic factors potentially regulating gray matter variation in a healthy population. This approach simultaneously assesses many variables for an aggregate effect and helps to elicit particular features in the data. We applied pICA-R to analyze gray matter density (GMD) images (274,131 voxels) in conjunction with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data (666,019 markers) collected from 1,256 healthy individuals of the Brain Imaging Genetics (BIG) study. Guided by a genetic reference derived from the gene GNA14, pICA-R identified a significant SNP-GMD association (r = -0.16, P = 2.34 × 10(-8) ), implying that subjects with specific genotypes have lower localized GMD. The identified components were then projected to an independent dataset from the Mind Clinical Imaging Consortium (MCIC) including 89 healthy individuals, and the obtained loadings again yielded a significant SNP-GMD association (r = -0.25, P = 0.02). The imaging component reflected GMD variations in frontal, precuneus, and cingulate regions. The SNP component was enriched in genes with neuronal functions, including synaptic plasticity, axon guidance, molecular signal transduction via PKA and CREB, highlighting the GRM1, PRKCH, GNA12, and CAMK2B genes. Collectively, our findings suggest that GNA12 and GNA14 play a key role in the genetic architecture underlying normal GMD variation in frontal and parietal regions. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 08/2015; DOI:10.1002/hbm.22916 · 5.97 Impact Factor
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    • "Algunos autores han señalado que el uso del paradigma Stroop permite estudiar la capacidad de control de los sujetos sobre distractores externos o ambientales, pero no informa acerca del control sobre distractores de origen interno, y proponen como forma de valorar la interferencia interna en el procesamiento de información la tarea de supresión del pensamiento (think-no think) (Wessel, Wetzels, Jelicic y Merckelbach, 2005). En este paradigma experimental (Anderson y Green, 2001; Anderson, Ochsner, Kuhl, Cooper, Robertson y Gabrieli, 2004) los sujetos deben aprender una serie de pares de palabras, de forma que la primera parte del par actúe posteriormente como clave facilitadora de la segunda, que es la palabra que los sujetos deben recordar (ejemplo: trenza-muñeca). En la condición respuesta, los sujetos deben responder a la clave (trenza) diciendo la palabra diana asociada (muñeca) lo más rápidamente posible. "
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    DESCRIPTION: tesis doctoral defendida en octubre de 2010
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