Habituation of Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex to Repeated Emotionally Salient Pictures
Habituation of the neural response to repeated stimuli has been well demonstrated for subcortical limbic regions responding to emotionally salient stimuli. Although the rostral or affective division of the anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) is also engaged during emotional processing, little is known about the temporal dynamics of this region in sustained evaluation of emotional salience. Using a test/retest design, the present study assessed habituation in the human brain with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Eight healthy subjects were exposed to two repeated runs of aversive, neutral, and blank images. Activation of the rACC to negatively valenced pictures occurred only in the first session, and this activation was significantly greater in the first relative to the second session. Additionally, medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampal, and amygdalar activations were noted during the first, but not second, presentation of aversive pictures. These findings highlight the phasic activity of the rACC in emotional processing consistent with habituation.
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