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
    • "To answer the questions which brain regions mediate reappraisal processes and which cognitive mechanism underlies them, we aimed to identify those brain regions in which reappraisal is represented using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We hypothesized that if the temporal regions, IFG and MPFC, took on the function of an intermediary role between the cortical control and the subcortical affective system [Ochsner et al., 2004a, 2012], then reappraisal goals should be represented in those regions to promote the fundamental cognitive processes important for successful emotion regulation. We predicted that reappraisal processes would recruit prefrontal regions generally implicated in the cognitive control of emotions independent of the reappraisal goal. "
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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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