Activation of Anterior Paralimbic Structures During Guilt-Related Script-Driven Imagery
Several recent neuroimaging studies have examined the neuroanatomical correlates of normal emotional states, such as happiness, sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, and disgust; however, no previous study has examined the emotional state of guilt. In the current study, we used positron emission tomography and the script-driven imagery paradigm to study regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during the transient emotional experience of guilt in eight healthy male participants. In the Guilt condition, participants recalled and imagined participating in a personal event involving the most guilt they had ever experienced. In the Neutral condition, participants recalled and imagined participating in an emotionally neutral personal event. In the Guilt versus Neutral comparison, rCBF increases occurred in anterior paralimbic regions of the brain: bilateral anterior temporal poles, anterior cingulate gyrus, and left anterior insular cortex/inferior frontal gyrus. These results, along with those of previous studies, are consistent with the notion that anterior paralimbic regions of the brain mediate negative emotional states in healthy individuals.