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Considering anger from a neuroscience perspective

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to consider anger from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Five main claims are made: first, reactive aggression is the ultimate behavioral expression of anger and thus we can begin to understand anger by understanding reactive aggression. Second, neural systems implicated in reactive aggression (amygdala, hypothalamus, and periaqueductal gray; the basic threat system) are critically implicated in anger. Factors such as exposure to extreme threat that increase the responsiveness of these systems, should be (and are in the context of posttraumatic stress disorder), associated with increased anger. Third, regions of frontal cortex implicated in regulating the basic threat system, when dysfunctional (e.g., in the context of lesions) should be associated with increased anger. Fourth, frustration occurs when an individual continues to do an action in the expectation of a reward but does not actually receive that reward, and is associated with anger. Individuals who show impairment in the ability to alter behavioral responding when actions no longer receive their expected rewards should be (and are in the context of psychopathy) associated with increased anger. Fifth, someone not doing what another person wants them to do (particularly if this thwarts the person's goal) is frustrating and consequently anger inducing. The response to such a frustrating social event relies on the neural architecture implicated in changing behavioral responses in nonsocial frustrating situations. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:65–74. doi: 10.1002/wcs.154 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. This article is a U.S. Government work, and as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

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... The disruptive behavioral disorders may have more instances of intentionally hurting others, for example, as opposed to DMDD. Blair (2012) reviewed anger from a neuroscientific perspective, and found reactive anger to be related to activation of the basic threat system. While the RST is not mentioned in this article, Blair referred to the Gray and McNaughton (2000) FFFS neural structures. ...
... Blair found amygdaloid hyperresponsivity to be the common neural feature of these disorders. This means that upon increased exposure to threat, FFFS is sensitized and increasingly responsive, and people also become more anger prone (Blair, 2012) as a part of the fight-fight-freeze conglomerate of threat responding. ...
... One question arising from Blair's (2012) analysis with regards to DMDD, together with Carver and Jones' (2009) analysis, is whether anger shown by people diagnosed with DMDD is instrumental or BAS-approach related, or alternatively, if it is more fear/ threatrelated. As hypothesized in the RST, there are two forms of anger. ...
... 18 Frustration and strain are more likely to occur when juveniles do not receive the expected rewards or outcomes, undergo verbal and physical assaults, and suffer from discriminations. 7,14,19 Overall, several studies have found that strains may increase the probability of delinquency for several reasons, thereby constituting one of the major explanations of criminal and delinquent behaviors. ...
... 16 Frustration and strain are more likely to occur not only when juveniles are unable to achieve any of these goals or experience of adverse events, but also when they do not receive expected rewards, or predicted outcomes, or suffer from verbal and physical assaults, or any forms of discriminations. 16,19 Such negative emotionality, ineffective emotional regulation and coping mechanism, and inappropriate affective responses ultimately tend to result in reactive and proactive aggression and violence. 19 Both biological and psycho-social factors can influence and shape an adolescent's affective responses to certain situations, daily events, and social interactions with others. ...
... 16,19 Such negative emotionality, ineffective emotional regulation and coping mechanism, and inappropriate affective responses ultimately tend to result in reactive and proactive aggression and violence. 19 Both biological and psycho-social factors can influence and shape an adolescent's affective responses to certain situations, daily events, and social interactions with others. 3 PFC, amygdala, periaqueductal gray (PAG), limbic system, ACC-insula-amygdala-PAG connectivity (the "rage" brain network), and vmPFC-amygdala circuit have all been found to have significant implications for anger, frustration, strain, and aggression. ...
Article
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Biosocial theory has made considerable progress in explaining juvenile delinquency and making explicit references for juvenile justice policy during the past decades. However, because biosocial theory aims to identify multiple risk factors, it makes juvenile justice practice and develop delinquency prevention programs difficult. This paper proposes an integrated biosocial theory from the social, cognitive, affective, and moral (SCAM) perspectives to understand juvenile delinquency and facilitate the development and improvement of prevention and intervention programs. The article briefly summarizes the background and the key concepts of the chosen criminological theories and the logic of theoretical integration. Then it articulates the four aspects of the integrated biosocial theory and how it can contribute to criminology in details. Lastly, the paper identifies its potential limitations and provides practical implications. Keywords: Biosocial criminology, Juvenile delinquency, Prevention, Theoretical integration
... Research in offender populations linking the origin of reactive aggression to specific brain regions, indicate that a combination of decreased prefrontal activity along with increased, hyperactive limbic activity (amygdala) is related to reactive aggression (e.g. Blair 2012;Coccaro et al. 2016;da Cunha-Bang et al. 2017Diano et al. 2017;Heesink et al. 2018;Marxen et al. 2016;McCloskey et al. 2016;Skibsted et al. 2017). And research in youths with conduct problems link callousunemotional traits to aberrant amygdala activity as a risk factors for aggression (Cardinale et al. 2017) and adolescent antisocial behavior (Dotterer et al. 2017). ...
... Violent offenders are characterized by extreme aggressive behaviour (Grochowska and Kossowska 2012), with past aggression as a risk factor for violent recidivism Daffern 2011, 2015). Therefore, we investigate a paradigm that is able to provoke anger (Tonnaer et al. 2017), resulting in reactive aggression (Blair 2012). We focused on anger engagement, because anger is the emotional drive or motive behind reactive aggression (Averill 1983). ...
... Previous research on maladaptive emotion regulation has indicated that a combination of decreased prefrontal activity along with increased, hyperactive limbic activity (amygdala) is related to reactive aggression (e.g. Blair 2012;Coccaro et al. 2016;da Cunha-Bang et al. 2017Diano et al. 2017;Heesink et al. 2018;Marxen et al. 2016;McCloskey et al. 2016;Skibsted et al. 2017). showed that left amygdalamedial PFC connectivity was decreased from pre-to post-emotion task in the VOF and increased in the control group. ...
Article
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Neurobiological models propose reactive aggression as a failure in emotion regulation, caused by an imbalance between prefrontal cortical control and excessive bottom-up signals of negative affect by limbic regions, including the amygdala. Therefore, we hypothesize a negative correlation between PFC and amygdala activity (pre/post resting-state scans) in violent offenders. In this study resting-state fMRI was administered before and after an emotion (anger and happiness) provocation or engagement task within 18 male violent offenders scoring high on reactive aggression, and 18 male non-offender controls. Research in emotional pre/post resting-state showed altered connectivity by task performance. Therefore, bilateral amygdala region of interest (ROI) whole brain functional connectivity analysis tested dynamic change differences between pre and post resting-state connectivity between groups. Self-reported anger showed a positive significant relationship with medial prefrontal cortex activity in the pre-task scan and significantly increased during the emotion task in both the violent and control group. Imaging results showed a significant decrease in amygdala – medial prefrontal functional connectivity in the violent offenders and an increase in the non-offender controls after the emotion task. The opposite pattern was found for amygdala connectivity with the (para) limbic regions: violent offenders showed increased connectivity and non-offender controls showed decreased connectivity. The present results indicate that reactive aggression might stem from a focus on emotion processing, as indicated by an increase in limbic functional connectivity. The combination of a focus on emotion, along with a lack of medial prefrontal cortex regulation, has the potential to grow out of control e.g. in reactive aggression.
... The relationship with social provocation is particularly interesting in the current context. A major reason for anger following social provocation is to re-establish dominance i.e., the response to an unfair allocation is based on the individual's desire to establish at least equality with the allocator [2,6,8]. However, the relationship between irritability with social goals/expectations and aggression has received very little attention. ...
... Based on previous studies, we predicted that CD and higher levels of CU traits would be associated with lack of guilt or concern for victim suffering, and greater concern for status. Based on theories on irritability and anger [2,6,8], we predicted that higher levels of irritability would be positively associated with greater expectations of establishing dominance following aggression and concern for status. ...
... As noted, the MANCOVA analysis indicated that irritability was positively associated with expectations that aggression would engender dominance and force respect and valuing dominance and forced respect. This is interesting as theoretical accounts of the communicatory value of anger suggest that a major goal of the display is to re-establish dominance-the response to an unfair allocation is based on the individual's desire to establish at least equality with the allocator [2,6,8]. Consistent with this, the current data indicate that individuals who are more prone to anger (i.e., have higher irritability/ARI scores) are predisposed to focus on the potential for establishing dominance over, and respect from, those aggressed against during social conflict. ...
Article
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Background Previous work has examined the association of aggression levels and callous-unemotional traits with outcome expectations and values regarding the consequences of aggression. Less work has examined the outcome expectations and values regarding the consequences of aggression of adolescents with Conduct Disorder (CD). Also, no studies have examined links between irritability (a second socio-affective trait associated with CD) and these social cognitive processes despite the core function of anger in retaliatory aggression and establishing dominance. Method The current study, investigating these issues, involved 193 adolescents (typically developing [TD; N = 106], 87 cases with CD [N = 87]). Participants completed an adaptation of the Outcomes Expectations and Values Questionnaire and were assessed for CU traits and irritability via the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional traits and the Affective Reactivity Index. Results While CD was associated with atypical outcome expectations this was not seen within statistical models including CU traits and irritability. CU traits were associated with decreased expectation that aggression would result in feelings of remorse and victim suffering, as well as decreased concern that aggressive acts would result in punishment and victim suffering. Irritability was associated with increased expectations and concern that aggression would result in dominance and forced respect. Conclusions The results suggest that CU traits and irritability, often present in youth with CD, are associated with different forms of maladaptive outcome expectations and values regarding the consequences of aggression. This suggests that the atypical social cognitive processes underlying aggressive behavior among youth exhibiting CU traits may differ from those exhibiting problems regulating anger.
... Anger can also be observed as an active interaction between multiple structures, both in and outside of the limbic system. In recent years, compelling evidence has pointed to the amygdala-hypothalamus-periaqueductal gray (AHPG) system as a neural correlate of anger, as well as structures such as the FCs and the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices (Dougherty et al. 1999; Blair 2011). The AHPG system is identified as the basic threat system, one known to be critically implicated in aggression and anger. ...
... Serotonin is known to play a role in the regulation of aggression, sleep, and anxiety (Ursin 2002;Seo et al. 2008;Corchs et al. 2015). It is hypothesized that lower levels of serotonin might make it more difficult for the FCs and amygdala to communicate, which might make it more difficult to control or suppress anger (Blair 2011). All in all, anger uses an array of neural structures: from structures related to more reactive, instinctual behaviors (e.g., amygdala; Hendricks et al. 2013;Blair 2011) to structures associated with higher-order cognitive processes (e.g., FCs; Blair 2011). ...
... It is hypothesized that lower levels of serotonin might make it more difficult for the FCs and amygdala to communicate, which might make it more difficult to control or suppress anger (Blair 2011). All in all, anger uses an array of neural structures: from structures related to more reactive, instinctual behaviors (e.g., amygdala; Hendricks et al. 2013;Blair 2011) to structures associated with higher-order cognitive processes (e.g., FCs; Blair 2011). 14.2 Triggers and Expression: Cognitive Theories of Anger 14.2 ...
Chapter
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In this chapter, we offer a content analysis of top-tier management journals to examine the extent to which advocates of neuroscience in management pay heed to the ethical ramifications of their work. Based upon our analysis, we are able to robustly refute the claim by Butler and colleagues (Hum Relat 70:1171–1190, 2017) that Lindebaum’s (Hum Relat 69(3):537–50, 2016) concerns about the lack of ethical concerns in the proliferation and application of neuroscientific ideas and measurements are basically much ado about nothing. By way of this content analysis, we advance the debate on the ethical ramifications of applying neuroscience in management by demonstrating (1) which ethical issues are recognised and (2) which ones are not. Doing so has the potential to open up new directions in studying the ethical and practical ramifications of neuroscience in and around workplaces.
... In the current study, irritability (at least in those with lower CU traits) was associated with increased responses to approaching threats (relative to comparison conditions) within the amygdala and PAG, fusiform and lingual gyrus and ventral ACC and PCC (albeit with respect to the amygdala at a slightly more liberal threshold). In short, irritability was associated with increased responses within regions included in the acute threat response [amygdala and PAG; (4,50)], regions representing visual stimuli that are recipients of priming from the amygdala to emotional stimuli [lingual and fusiform cortices; (26,27)] and regions representing the value of emotional stimuli [and perhaps organizing regulatory responding; vACC and PCC; (51)(52)(53)(54)]. These findings are consistent with a view that a core component of irritability is a dysregulated acute threat response such that the individual is more likely to express reactive aggression to a provocation than freezing or avoidance (5,50,55). ...
... In short, irritability was associated with increased responses within regions included in the acute threat response [amygdala and PAG; (4,50)], regions representing visual stimuli that are recipients of priming from the amygdala to emotional stimuli [lingual and fusiform cortices; (26,27)] and regions representing the value of emotional stimuli [and perhaps organizing regulatory responding; vACC and PCC; (51)(52)(53)(54)]. These findings are consistent with a view that a core component of irritability is a dysregulated acute threat response such that the individual is more likely to express reactive aggression to a provocation than freezing or avoidance (5,50,55). ...
... Yet, both are associated with similar symptoms -specifically, anger and reactive aggression (4,15,56). It is argued that irritability and reactive aggression can result from increased threat responsiveness; the individual responds with rage rather than freeze or flight to provocation (5,50,55). But it is also argued that reactive aggression and anger can result from dysfunctional modulation of threat response circuitry and impaired decision-making regarding the value of future response options; the individual fails to represent the "badness" of the action and so is more likely to commit the non-optimal act (4). ...
Article
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Background: Irritability and callous-unemotional (CU; reduced guilt/empathy) traits vary dimensionally in the typically developing population but may be particularly marked in youth with conduct disorder (CD). While these dimensional traits are positively correlated, they have been associated with divergent forms of dysfunction, particularly with respect to threat processing (i.e., irritability with increased, and CU traits with decreased, threat responsiveness). This suggests that interactions between these two dimensions may be complex at the neurobiological level. However, this issue has received minimal empirical attention. Methods: The study included 105 adolescents (typically developing and cases with CD; N = 59). They were scanned with fMRI during a looming threat task that involved images of threatening and neutral human faces or animals that appeared to be either looming or receding. Results: Significant irritability-by-CU traits-by-Direction-by-Emotion interactions were seen within right thalamus/PAG, left lingual gyrus and right fusiform gyrus; irritability was positively associated with the BOLD response for Looming Threatening vs. Receding Threatening trials, particularly for youth with low CU traits. In contrast, CU traits were negatively associated with the same differential BOLD response but particularly for youth showing higher levels of irritability. Similar findings were seen within left ventral anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, though the addition of the interaction with CU traits was only seen at slightly more lenient thresholds. Conclusions: The results support previous work linking irritability to increased, and CU traits to reduced, threat responsiveness. However, for adolescents with high irritability, if CU traits are also high, the underlying neuropathology appears to relate to reduced, rather than increased, threat responsiveness.
... 18 Frustration and strain are more likely to occur when juveniles do not receive the expected rewards or outcomes, undergo verbal and physical assaults, and suffer from discriminations. 7,14,19 Overall, several studies have found that strains may increase the probability of delinquency for several reasons, thereby constituting one of the major explanations of criminal and delinquent behaviors. ...
... 16 Frustration and strain are more likely to occur not only when juveniles are unable to achieve any of these goals or experience of adverse events, but also when they do not receive expected rewards, or predicted outcomes, or suffer from verbal and physical assaults, or any forms of discriminations. 16,19 Such negative emotionality, ineffective emotional regulation and coping mechanism, and inappropriate affective responses ultimately tend to result in reactive and proactive aggression and violence. 19 Both biological and psycho-social factors can influence and shape an adolescent's affective responses to certain situations, daily events, and social interactions with others. ...
... 16,19 Such negative emotionality, ineffective emotional regulation and coping mechanism, and inappropriate affective responses ultimately tend to result in reactive and proactive aggression and violence. 19 Both biological and psycho-social factors can influence and shape an adolescent's affective responses to certain situations, daily events, and social interactions with others. 3 PFC, amygdala, periaqueductal gray (PAG), limbic system, ACC-insula-amygdala-PAG connectivity (the "rage" brain network), and vmPFC-amygdala circuit have all been found to have significant implications for anger, frustration, strain, and aggression. ...
Article
Full-text available
Biosocial theory has made considerable progress in explaining juvenile delinquency and making explicit references for juvenile justice policy during the past decades. However, because biosocial theory aims to identify multiple risk factors, it makes juvenile justice practice and develop delinquency prevention programs difficult. This paper proposes an integrated biosocial theory from the social, cognitive, affective, and moral (SCAM) perspectives to understand juvenile delinquency and facilitate the development and improvement of prevention and intervention programs. The article briefly summarizes the background and the key concepts of the chosen criminological theories and the logic of theoretical integration. Then it articulates the four aspects of the integrated biosocial theory and how it can contribute to criminology in details. Lastly, the paper identifies its potential limitations and provides practical implications.
... In particular, uncontrollable anger situations may trigger a 'low road' of activation (e.g., with minimal mediation by higher-order cognition), rapidly leading to anger displays and aggression. Some argue that intense frustration triggers anger leading to reactive aggression in animals when there is high level of danger and the threat is very close (Blair, 2012). In humans, whether stemming from frustration or from perceived threat, anger often requires some degree of regulation. ...
... Although anger and aggression are substantially related and may be part of a particular affective-behavioral complex, researchers differentiate between anger, the self-reported emotion and aggression, the behavior (Blair, 2012). The lack of ability to ask non-humans about their feeling state or emotion greatly limits the study of anger in animals and thus limits translation. ...
... Increased activation in the dmPFC, dACC, thalamus, insula, and hippocampus has been associated with increased anger, and anger provocation increases activation in the dlPFC and vmPFC (Denson et al., 2009; also see Fanning et al., 2017). One explanation for increases in prefrontal and subcortical regions following provocation is that anger expression (and reactive aggression) occurs when regulatory regions are compromised or overwhelmed by the salience of the anger cue (Blair, 2012). Individuals with reduced self-control or increased impulsivity might be more likely to show these neural effects following provocation, because they need to exert greater effort to down-regulate emotional reactivity (e.g., Blair, 2012;Denson, 2014). ...
... One explanation for increases in prefrontal and subcortical regions following provocation is that anger expression (and reactive aggression) occurs when regulatory regions are compromised or overwhelmed by the salience of the anger cue (Blair, 2012). Individuals with reduced self-control or increased impulsivity might be more likely to show these neural effects following provocation, because they need to exert greater effort to down-regulate emotional reactivity (e.g., Blair, 2012;Denson, 2014). Increasing self-control though training will likely influence how these regions activate and connect following a provocation, although the nature of this influence is somewhat unclear. ...
Article
Self-control training (SCT) is one way to enhance self-controlled behavior. We conducted a novel and exploratory functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment to examine how SCT affects neural responses in a situation that elicits a self-control response: anger provocation. Forty-five healthy young men and women completed two-weeks of SCT or a behavioral monitoring task and were then insulted during scanning. We found significant changes in functional activation and connectivity using a lenient error threshold, which were not observed using a stricter threshold. Activation in the posterior insula was greater for the control compared to the SCT group at post-provocation, trait aggression correlated with neural responses to SCT, and SCT was associated with specific amygdala-cortical connections. Neural changes occurred even though SCT did not affect participants’ performance on an inhibition task, reports of trying to control their anger, or the experience of anger. This dissociation prevented clear interpretation about whether the neural changes were indicative of specific anger or anger control processes. Although replication with high-powered studies is needed, we provide evidence that SCT affects neural responses in the context of anger provocation.
... Agent-based modeling is able to provide support to humans and can be used to address aggression in educational to commercial sectors as well as in the cyber-world [2]. Aggression is general an unwanted behavior, which can be of any form like cyberbullying [3] or responsive behavior upon negative critics [4]. Typically, anger arouses due to certain behavior of others, which threatens the ego of a person. ...
... The orientation of this anger is directed towards punishment, causing activations in the amygdala, pre-frontal and posterior cingulate cortices. During threat, the amygdalahypothalamus and the periaqueductal-gray become active [4] along with the hippocampus. Some neuro-transmitters are also involved. ...
Conference Paper
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ocial media is one of the widely used channels for interpersonal communication, to express feelings and thoughts through certain feedback. Blogs or ecommerce websites share plenty of such information, which serves as a valuable asset, and is also used to make predictions. However, negative feedback can ruin the essence of such platforms, causing frustration among peers. This paper presents a computational network model of a humanoid agent for getting inappropriate feed-backs, who learns to react with a level of competence over aggression due to feedback. Tuning and evaluation of the model are done by performing simulation experiments based on public tweets and mathematical analysis respectively. This model can serve as an input to detect and handle aggression.
... Moreover, neuroscience is concerned with multi-level interconnections from the submolecular to the cellular, anatomical, behavioral, and social levels of analysis (Cacioppo, Berntson, Sheridan, & McClintock, 2000;Ochsner & Lieberman, 2001). Within the ON perspective, for example, an angry employee could be characterized by the combination of low serotonin, high dopamine, and high noradrenaline in the body (Lövheim, 2012), or an altered responsiveness of the brain circuitry amygdalahypothalamus-periaqueductal gray (Blair, 2012), or increased heart rate mapped onto behavioral processes occurring in certain social interactions (Denson, Grisham, & Moulds, 2011), or all these features together. As a consequence, many methods, and functional neuroimaging in particular, can be used to capture these points. ...
... Moreover, general aggression was associated with increased activity in the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, but displaced aggression was not; instead, displaced aggression was significantly associated with increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. Extending these results, Blair (2012) investigated reactive aggression to suggest that the prefrontal cortex moderates such circuits in the presence of anger. ...
Preprint
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In book: Cambridge Handbook of Workplace Affect Publisher: Cambridge University Press
... Moreover, neuroscience is concerned with multi-level interconnections from the submolecular to the cellular, anatomical, behavioral, and social levels of analysis (Cacioppo, Berntson, Sheridan, & McClintock, 2000;Ochsner & Lieberman, 2001). Within the ON perspective, for example, an angry employee could be characterized by the combination of low serotonin, high dopamine, and high noradrenaline in the body (Lövheim, 2012), or an altered responsiveness of the brain circuitry amygdalahypothalamus-periaqueductal gray (Blair, 2012), or increased heart rate mapped onto behavioral processes occurring in certain social interactions (Denson, Grisham, & Moulds, 2011), or all these features together. As a consequence, many methods, and functional neuroimaging in particular, can be used to capture these points. ...
... Moreover, general aggression was associated with increased activity in the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, but displaced aggression was not; instead, displaced aggression was significantly associated with increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. Extending these results, Blair (2012) investigated reactive aggression to suggest that the prefrontal cortex moderates such circuits in the presence of anger. ...
Preprint
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This work contributes to research in workplace affect by presenting an Organizational Neuroscience perspective on emotions. Methodological motivations are explored and a theoretical parallel drawn between Affective Event Theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) and neural circuitries of information processing. Neuroscience research relevant to the organizational affective literature is then explained by covering the broad domains of intra-individual and inter-personal affect. Topics addressed include basic emotions, emotional contagion, and emotional intelligence, among others. Suggestions for future research emerge at the end. Massaro S. (2019). The Organizational Neuroscience of Emotions. In: The Cambridge Handbook of Workplace Affect; Eds.: Yang L., Cropanzano R.S., Daus C., & Tur V.A.M.; Chapter 3, Cambridge University Press
... About the neural bases of anger experience, studies using interpersonal provocative paradigms (such as the Ultimatum and the Dictator games, or the Taylor Aggression Paradigm), have been shown to increase brain activity during provocation or unfair situations in dACC, insula, ventrolateral, dorsolateral and dorsomedial PFC, precuneus, temporal pole, TPJ, and visual regions including the FFG (Wagels et al., 2019;Weidler et al., 2019;Repple et al., 2017;Feng et al., 2015). Paradigms involving the recollection or the imagination of personal autobiographic memories characterized by anger have shown different brain activations, such as in the PFC, the medial temporal lobe, the anterior insula, the orbitofrontal cortex, the IFG, the amygdala and the putamen/caudate (Blair, 2011;Fabiansson et al., 2012;Lindquist et al., 2012;. Finally, a new interesting kind of paradigm was proposed by Denson and colleagues (Denson et al., 2009;. ...
... There are different reviews on the neural bases of anger that compare different paradigms or different phases of anger processing, from provocation to regulation (Alia-Klein et al., 2019;Blair, 2011;Denson et al., 2009). ...
Article
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The neural bases of anger are still a matter of debate. In particular we do not know whether anger perception and anger experience rely on similar or different neural mechanisms. To study this topic, we performed activation-likelihood-estimation meta-analyses of human neuroimaging studies on 61 previous studies on anger perception and experience. Anger perception analysis resulted in significant activation in the amygdala, the right superior temporal gyrus, the right fusiform gyrus and the right IFG, thus revealing the role of perceptual temporal areas for perceiving angry stimuli. Anger experience analysis resulted in the bilateral activations of the insula and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, thus revealing a role for these areas in the subjective experience of anger and, possibly, in a subsequent evaluation of the situation. Conjunction analyses revealed a common area localized in the right inferior frontal gyrus, probably involved in the conceptualization of anger for both perception and experience. Altogether these results provide new insights on the functional architecture underlying the neural processing of anger that involves separate and joint mechanisms. According to our tentative model, angry stimuli are processed by temporal areas, such as the superior temporal gyrus, the fusiform gyrus and the amygdala; on the other hand, the subjective experience of anger mainly relies on the anterior insula; finally, this pattern of activations converges in the right IFG. This region seems to play a key role in the elaboration of a general meaning of this emotion, when anger is perceived or experienced.
... Self-control training, however, decreases impulsive aggression and normalizes prefrontal and amygdala activity (Denson, Capper, Oaten, Friese, & Schofield, 2011;Zotev et al., 2016). Altogether, these findings suggest that impaired top-down control of prefrontal networks over cortico-limbic areas likely increases aggressive outbursts in aggressive psychopathology and is linked to poor modulation of anger outbursts, in general (Blair, 2012;Denson et al., 2011;Lievaart, van der Veen, Huijding, Hovens, & Franken, 2018;Wong et al., 2019). ...
... Taken together, while response inhibition is typically associated with a right-dominant midcingulate-insular-frontoparietal network extending into the basal ganglia and the thalamus Corbetta & Shulman, 2002;Dosenbach et al., 2006;Guo et al., 2018;Rae et al., 2014;Swick et al., 2011), negative emotional states seem localized to portions of the ventromedial and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex extending into the insular cortex (Blair, 2012;Kragel et al., 2018). Although these findings epitomize the functional links between response inhibition and state anger, we are lacking a quantitative overview of the neural networks supporting response inhibition, state anger, and their neural overlap. ...
Article
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Although anger may weaken response inhibition (RI) by allowing outbursts to bypass deliberate processing, it is equally likely that RI deficits precipitate a state of anger (SA). In adolescents, for instance, anger occurs more frequently and often leads to escalating aggressive behaviors. Even though RI is considered a key component in explaining individual differences in SA expression, the neural overlap between SA and RI remains elusive. Here, we aimed to meta-analytically revisit and update the neural correlates of motor RI, to determine a consistent neural architecture of SA, and to identify their joint neural network. Considering that inhibitory abilities follow a protracted maturation until early adulthood, we additionally computed RI meta-analyses in youths and adults. Using activation likelihood estimation, we calculated twelve meta-analyses across 157 RI and 39 SA experiments on healthy individuals. Consistent with previous findings, RI was associated with a broad frontoparietal network including the anterior insula/inferior frontal gyrus (aI/IFG), premotor and midcingulate cortices, extending into right temporoparietal areas. Youths showed convergent activity in right midcingulate and medial prefrontal areas, left aI/ IFG, and the temporal poles. SA, on the other hand, reliably recruited the right aI/IFG and anterior cingulate cortex. Conjunction analyses between RI and SA yielded a single convergence cluster in the right aI/IFG. While frontoparietal networks and bilateral aI are ubiquitously recruited during RI, the right aI/IFG cluster likely represents a node in a dynamically-adjusting monitoring network that integrates salient information thereby facilitating the execution of goal-directed behaviors under highly unpredictable scenarios.
... Both dimensions of aggression are mostly described in terms of problematic and destructive conduct (Howells & Howells, 2002). Additionally, the current study included the assessment of anger, because anger is the emotional drive behind reactive aggression (Averill, 1983;Blair, 2012). Anger is defined as an emotion "characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong" (American Psychiatric Association, APA). ...
... In fact, in the literature, anger is associated with approach motivation (Harmon-Jones, Peterson, & Harmon-Jones, 2010;He, Degnan, McDermott, Henderson, & Fox, 2010) or "the impulse to go toward" (Harmon-Jones, Harmon-Jones, & Price, 2013, p. 1). But elevated anger and the inability to regulate anger are related to problematic and destructive conduct, including aggressive and violent behavior (Blair, 2012;Howells & Howells, 2002). Consequently, anger has been defined as a mental health issue by policymakers, with anger regulation as a crucial target in the prevention of violent crime related to reactive aggression (Howells & Howells, 2002). ...
Article
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The current study aims to investigate if venting anger reduces or increases aggression. Therefore, we allowed venting anger and measured its effect on aggression after two different anger provocation paradigms in a sample of forensic psychiatric offenders (FPO, N = 45) and penitentiary offenders (PO, N = 22). These provocation paradigms included an Articulated Thoughts in Simulated Situations (ATSS) comprising anger stories, and a harassing body opponent bag (BOB) measuring punching force. To determine aggression pre/post provocation, implicit anger and self-reported aggression was assessed. Further, the relation between provocation paradigm response, aggression, and psychopathy was evaluated. Results indicate that venting anger reduces aggression in FPO, but not in PO, where even evidence for increase in one aggression index was found. Furthermore, groups differed in immediate responses during provocation, with FPO showing significantly more verbal aggressive responses during ATSS but less physically aggressive responses during BOB than PO. Moreover, results show a correlation between automatic cognitive anger biases during provocation and psychopathy in FPO. In PO, aggressive behavioral intentions and anger control problems during provocation were both related to self-reported aggression. For clinical practice, ATSS could be utilized as a paradigm exploring the actual state of specific cognitive biases toward anger.
... Irritability is the propensity to initiate an angry response to frustration, threat, and social provocation and can be defined as "mood (trait) and behavioral (reactive state) dysregulation" that results in a propensity to react and respond angrily when an individual's ability to attain a goal is blocked [1][2][3]. It can be clinically concerning when the individual's expression of anger is high in relation to their peers [4,5]. ...
... IQ partially accounted for the association of both CBN and ITC CVs with irritability symptom severity (Figs A-B, respectively). responding [3,55], this was unexpected. Moreover, none of the subcortical structures showed bilateral group differences in subcortical volume. ...
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Previous studies examining structural brain correlates of irritability have taken a region-specific approach and have been relatively inconsistent. In a sample of adolescents with and without clinically impairing irritability, the current study examines: (i) cortical volume (CV) in canonical functional networks; (ii) the association between the CV of functional networks and severity of irritability; and (iii) the extent to which IQ mediates the association between structural abnormalities and severity of irritability. Structural MRI and IQ data were collected from 130 adolescents with high irritability (mean age = 15.54±1.83 years, 58 females, self-reported Affective Reactivity Index [ARI] ≥ 4) and 119 adolescents with low irritability (mean age = 15.10±1.93 years, 39 females, self-reported ARI < 4). Subject-specific network-wise CV was estimated after parcellating the whole brain into 17 previously reported functional networks. Our Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) revealed that adolescents with high irritability had significantly reduced CV of the bilateral control and default-mode networks ( p < 0.05) relative to adolescents with low irritability. Multiple regression analyses showed a significant negative association between the control network CV and the severity of irritability. Mediation analysis showed that IQ partially mediated the association between the control network CV and the severity of irritability. Follow-up analysis on subcortical volume (SCV) showed that adolescents with high irritability had reduced bilateral SCV within the amygdala relative to adolescents with low irritability. Reduced CV within bilateral control and default networks and reduced SCV within bilateral amygdala may represent core features of the pathophysiology of irritability. The current data also indicate the potential importance of a patient’s IQ in determining how pathophysiology related to the control network is expressed.
... Reactive aggression is an anger-based approach-related motivated behavior to a provoking or threatening event (Blair, 2012;Harmon-Jones et al., 2013). Repeated reactive aggressive outbursts are the core symptom of intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which affects about population, Lenzenweger et al., 2007). ...
... Furthermore, IED has been associated with lower grey matter volume of the right amygdala, and bilaterally in the ventro-medial PFC, the dorso-medial PFC, and the anterior insula , as well as lower white matter integrity in the left hemispheric superior longitudinal fasciculus that connects temporo-parietal association areas with the lateral and medial PFC . Animal studies have underlined the role of subcortical limbic areas such as the medial hypothalamus (Falkner et al., 2014;Haller, 2013;Siegel and Victoroff, 2009) and the periaqueductal grey for defensive reactive aggressive behavior (Blair, 2012). Recently, the lateral habenula, a small epithalamic structure that plays a role in reward-and aversion-related motivated behavior (Boulos et al., 2017;Lawson et al., 2014;Matsumoto and Hikosaka, 2007), has been shown to regulate appetitive aggression in mice (Golden et al., 2016). ...
Article
Disproportionate anger and reactive aggression in response to provocation are core symptoms of intermittent-explosive disorder (IED). Previous research shows a link between the propensity for aggression in healthy individuals and altered functioning of prefrontal-limbic and default-mode networks (DMN) at rest when no provocation is present. In a pilot study, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the effects of pronounced reactive aggression in men, exemplified by IED, on the functional organization of resting-state brain networks including subcortical nodes such as the habenula previously implicated in aggression in preclinical models. Graph theory was applied to resting-state networks to determine alterations in global efficiency and clustering in high reactive aggressive men compared to low reactive aggressive men (controls). Further, we computed within-group correlations between trait aggression and graph measures, as well as within-group whole-brain seed-to-voxel regression analyses between trait aggression and habenula resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC). Reactive aggressive men compared to controls showed higher global efficiency in the left habenula, the left pulvinar in the thalamus, the left dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex, and the right temporal pole, as well as a trend for decreased clustering in DMN nodes. In the reactive aggressive group, high levels of trait aggression were linked to lower global efficiency of the left habenula, and to lower rsFC between the left habenula and the left ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex, a core region involved in inhibitory control. Together with preclinical evidence, our findings in men underline the relevance of aberrant habenula-prefrontal connectivity for the severity of aggressive behavior.
... In addition, we did not find an effect of cognitive reappraisal on the mPFC as expected, which is consistent with a previous study with TAP (Krämer et al., 2011;Beyer et al., 2014). In fact, it has recently been argued that the mPFC is a crucial structure for the development of socially appropriate behavior rather than the inhibition of anger or aggression on a trial-wise basis (Blair, 2012). Moreover, the evidence of the role of the mPFC in the suppression of anger and aggression is mainly derived from studies with patients and violent criminals ( Grafman et al., 1996), whose inhibitory control function is reduced, and whether it is also observed in healthy people should be considered in more studies. ...
... Contrasting winning against losing trials showed significant activation of the bilateral middle temporal gyrus, left superior frontal gyrus, bilateral angular gyrus, left precuneus, bilateral postcentral gyrus, and left paracentral lobule. This result replicates previous findings of increased precuneus activation in win trials, which plays an important role in ToM (Völlm et al., 2006;Geraci et al., 2010;Blair, 2012). Our study indicates that participants showed empathy for incoming opponents' punishment. ...
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A number of empirical researches have shown that reactive aggression, which is the behavior that is impulsive, thoughtless, driven by anger, and causes harm toward another individual, can lead to a series of negative effects. Cognitive reappraisal may have the potential to reduce reactive aggression, but evidence for this effect in healthy populations is lacking. We randomly assigned participants to a Reappraisal Group (n = 19) or Control Group (n = 20) in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) version of the well-established Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP). TAP was employed to elicit and measure reactive aggression, during which participants were informed that they would play a competitive reaction time task against two opponents in turn and the winner would punish the loser. The TAP used in this study separates the decision-making (during which participants were asked to set a punishment level for the opponent) and affective processes (during which the punishment was applied or received) that underlie reactive aggression. Behavioral data showed that there was no difference between the Reappraisal Group and Control Group in the punishment level selections (i.e., reactive aggression). However, on the neural level, cognitive reappraisal reduced the activation of left insula, right cuneus, and right middle frontal gyrus (MFG) during the decision phase, independently of the level of provocation. In addition, cognitive reappraisal reduced the activation of the caudate under the provocative condition when making decisions about aggressive behavior. The results of the outcome phase showed that, after winning a competition, cognitive reappraisal increased the activation of the right orbital middle frontal gyrus (OMFG) under the provocative condition and reduced the activation of the bilateral supplementary motor area (SMA) under the non-provocative condition. The results suggest that cognitive reappraisal would be effective in modulating the neural activity of reactive aggression.
... Las conductas emocionales, de acuerdo con Aguado (2014) -Expectativas no cumplidas se relacionan con el incremento de la ira (Blair, 2012). ...
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RESUMEN La Ira, el Bienestar Psicológico y la Satisfacción de Pareja, son algunos de los conceptos que han sido estudiados por separado en los últimos años, sin embargo, es poca la información sobre la interacción de estas variables. Este trabajo se diseñó con la intención de determinar dicha relación. Se esperaría que las personas que exhiban menos Ira, o la expresen de una manera saludable, experimenten mayor Satisfacción en la Pareja, niveles altos de Bienestar Psicológico y viceversa. La muestra estuvo constituida por 60 hombres y 68 mujeres de entre 18 y 60 años que se encontraran en una relación de pareja. Los instrumentos fueron la Escala de Ira (STAXI 2), Escala de bienestar (BIEPS-A), RAS (Escala de Evaluación de la Relación de Pareja) y el Cuestionario de Ira Funcional. Los resultados indicaron que existe una relación lineal estadísticamente significativa, moderada e inversamente proporcional, entre la Ira Funcional y la Expresión de Ira Rasgo; relación lineal estadísticamente significativa, baja y directamente proporcional, entre la Ira Funcional y el Bienestar Psicológico, entre la Ira Funcional y la Satisfacción en la Relación de Pareja, y entre el Bienestar Psicológico y las Satisfacción en la Relación. La relación entre la Expresión de la Ira Rasgo y el Bienestar Psicológico es lineal, estadísticamente significativa, baja e inversamente proporcional.
... The rationale behind this paradigm is that the participant is assigned a task, but successful performance on the assignment is never possible, no matter how hard the participant tries. This task has been used to provoke anger states, since the participant acts in expectation of a reward, but never obtains it (Blair 2012). ...
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Two recent studies have demonstrated that increases in arousal states lead to an increase people’s sense of agency, i.e., the subjective experience of controlling one’s own voluntary actions (Minohara et al. in Front Psychol 7:1165, 2016; Wen et al. in Conscious Cogn 36:87–95, 2015). We here extend these findings by showing that arousal states with negative emotional valence, such as fear and anger, decrease sense of agency. Anger and fear are negative emotional states. Anecdotally, they are often invoked as reasons for losing control, and neuroscientific evidence confirms important effects on the brain’s action control systems. Surprisingly, the subjective experience of acting in anger or fear has scarcely been investigated experimentally. Thus, the legal notion that these intense emotions may undermine normal voluntary control over actions and outcomes (the ‘Loss of Control’, a partial defence for murder) lacks any clear evidence base. In three laboratory experiments, we measured sense of agency using an implicit measure based on time perception (the “intentional binding” paradigm). These actions occurred in either an emotionally neutral condition, or in a fearful (experiments 1 and 2) or angry state (experiment 3). In line with our hypotheses, fear or anger reduced the subjective sense of control over an action outcome, even though the objective causal link between action and outcome remained the same. This gap between the objective facts of agency, and a reduced subjective experience of agency under emotional conditions, has important implications for society and law. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s00221-018-5461-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... Even when the psychopath is responsible for his own mistakes, his frustrations are usually directed towards others. Relatedly, Blair (2012) has asserted that psychopaths are vulnerable to anger because they are more vulnerable to having goals thwarted than non-psychopathic individuals. This position rests on laboratory-based studies that find that psychopaths have difficulty adjusting to changes in reinforcement contingencies (e.g., Budhani, Richell, & Blair, 2006;Newman, Patterson, & Kosson, 1987). ...
... Neuroimaging studies in adults suggest negative emotional challenges activate a dynamic interaction between limbic structures, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and striatum, that reflect threat-or reward-response, and prefrontal areas that down-regulate these subcortical regions (Blair, 2012;Coccaro et al., 2011). The dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, collectively the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), may differentiate mature deliberate versus automatic emotion regulation. ...
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Deliberate emotion regulation, the ability to willfully modulate emotional experiences, is shaped through interpersonal scaffolding and forecasts later functioning in multiple domains. However, nascent deliberate emotion regulation in early childhood is poorly understood due to a paucity of studies that simulate interpersonal scaffolding of this skill and measure its occurrence in multiple modalities. Our goal was to identify neural and behavioral components of early deliberate emotion regulation to identify patterns of competent and deficient responses. A novel probe was developed to assess deliberate emotion regulation in young children. Sixty children (age 4-6 years) were randomly assigned to deliberate emotion regulation or control conditions. Children completed a frustration task while lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) activation was recorded via functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Facial expressions were video recorded and children self-rated their emotions. Parents rated their child's temperamental emotion regulation. Deliberate emotion regulation interpersonal scaffolding predicted a significant increase in frustration-related LPFC activation not seen in controls. Better temperamental emotion regulation predicted larger LPFC activation increases post- scaffolding among children who engaged in deliberate emotion regulation interpersonal scaffolding. A capacity to increase LPFC activation in response to interpersonal scaffolding may be a crucial neural correlate of early deliberate emotion regulation.
... The current study indicates a lowered threshold for perceiving threatening stimuli in anger and aggression. It has been suggested before that impulsive aggression, originating from anger, is linked to the acute threat response system (Blair 2012). Threatening stimuli can elicit a defensive response as measured by the acoustic startle reflex and in anger and aggression related problems this response is stronger. ...
... Research into the neurobiological basis of emotional regulation, however, suggests that emotion and regulation are connected but separate processes (Martel, 2009). Emotional regulation, including basic threat response, has been associated with regions of the frontal cortex, and dysfunction in these areas is also linked to increased anger (Blair, 2012). ...
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Objective: To examine the relationship between anger and neuropsychological functioning in adults with ADHD. Method: Seventy adults with ADHD were assessed. Correlational and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed using neurocognitive tasks and subscales of the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI)-trait anger, anger out, anger control, while controlling for anxiety and depression (HADS), and full-scale IQ (WASI). Selective, divided, and shifting attention were assessed using the Test of Everyday Attention (TEA) subscales. Sustained attention was measured using Continuous Performance Test (CPT) scores. Response inhibition was measured using scores from the CPT and Matching Familiar Figures test (MFFT). Results: Trait anger and anger out were both found to have a significant relationship to shifting attention (TEA - visual elevator task) and anxiety. Anger control was found to have a significant relationship to response inhibition (MFFT). Conclusion: Anger was significantly related to two measures of neuropsychological functioning, and anxiety. Shifting attention was more significantly associated with trait anger and anger out than response inhibition, which was significantly related to anger control. These findings have the potential to inform targeted interventions in forensic psychiatry and may have implications regarding which model of ADHD best accounts for anger dysregulation.
... Moreover, as they note, most nonhuman animal studies of emotion to date have been done on fear, rather than on anger. However, other scientists have applied a similar definition of emotion to the case of anger (Blair 2012). Adolphs and Anderson's readers, too, can make such an application. ...
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This essay takes a fresh approach to a traditional Western philosophical account of anger, according to which anger is best defined as a desire for payback, namely, a desire to make an offender pay a price, in the currency of unwanted pain, for the pain he caused someone else. The essay focuses more specifically on the work of Thomas Aquinas, whose account of anger is often thought to center on a desire for ‘just vengeance.’ It analyzes and extends aspects of Aquinas’s account that have previously been treated too narrowly. It distinguishes three forms of anger, each of which has important features in common, which justify characterizing it as anger. Only one of these forms involves a desire to make an offender suffer for what he did. Even as this essay argues for articulating different forms of anger, it emphasizes the fluidity of anger’s forms, features, and relationships to other emotions. It briefly engages philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific perspectives while working principally in the domain of religious ethics and moral psychology.
... This anger can be defined as a negative, destructive emotion that is frequently associated with writhe, trouble, sorrow, rage [32], a subjective emotional state involving the interaction of cognitive appraisal and psychological components [33], and a state of internal (or phenomenological) negative feeling related to bodily changes, behavioural reactions, and perceptual and cognitive distortions and deficiencies ( i.e. attributing preventability, intentionality, injustice, or blame to others) [34]. Studies have reported that high level of anger and an inability to control are linked to troublesome and destructive behaviours such as violent and aggressive behaviours [35,36]. In their eight-year retrospective clinical study based on the examination of coroners' files from Quebec in Canada, Bourget et al. [22] highlighted that retaliating filicide is associated with specific intent to commit murder and can be the result of anger or revenge in a sample of 34 children aged under six years killed by mothers, and 27 filicide mothers. ...
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Background: Most of the research on filicide mothers suggests that they experience negative feelings before they kill their child. However, little is known about whether these negative feelings can be expressed after one-year post-offense among incarcerated filicide mothers with no history of psychiatric problems. In this study, we aimed to conduct a qualitative analysis to (a) understand negative feelings evolving from negative emotions such as anger, guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety among filicide mothers incarcerated in Nyarugenge Prison in Rwanda, (b) identify the impact of experienced negative feelings on their personal wellbeing, and (c) explore their coping strategies. Methods: This study adopted a phenomenology research design and face-to-face in-depth interviews to explore the problem among twenty filicide mothers selected from Nyarugenge prison. Data were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, organized, and analysed by using ATLAS.ti 8 Windows. Results: Anxious and depressed participants experienced both physical and emotional negative feelings. Social withdrawal and cognitive problems were expressed by anxious participants, while avoidance behaviours were particularly experienced by depressed participants. Intolerance created anger, while self-blame, regret, and acute stress created guilt. In addition, avoidance behaviours and poor self-judgment emerged from shame. Participants felt disconnected from their community and worried about a variety of issues because of their negative feelings. To cope with negative feelings, participants reported that they used abnormal defense, surrender and support from community resources. Discussion: Our findings highlight the overall negative feelings of incarcerated filicide mothers, which can guide mental health professionals and different stakeholders to respond with appropriate interventions.
... Anger is a subjective feeling generated in response to threat (real or imagined), perceived personal offence inflicted by unfair treatment, social injustice, insults, or other negative experiences like frustration, humiliation or betrayal (Berkowitz and Harmon-Jones, 2004;Blair, 2012). Anger can instantaneously engulf all other emotions, cognitive processes, behaviours, and interaction with fellow humans (Garfinkel et al., 2016) and may predispose an individual to violent acts (Gilam and Hendler, 2017). ...
Article
Background Anger is one of the primary emotions that profoundly impacts our daily life. Although the neural basis of anger needs to be explored on high priority, the field has not sufficiently advanced, perhaps due to the lack of a suitable animal model. New method We fabricated arenas in which the hungry rat can see and smell food but can not consume it. These animals seemed hyperactive and we monitored the (a) motor activity to access food, (b) biting behaviour, (c) blood pressure, heart rate and nor-epinephrine (NE) in plasma, (d) 5-HT and its metabolite in CSF, (e) effect of diazepam, 5-HT agonist, and antagonist on the behaviour, and (f) expression of immediate early gene in discrete areas of the brain. Results The fasted animal frantically tries to acquire food. It engages in intense biting of the separator plate; the behaviour was considered as an expression of anger-like emotion. These behaviours were attenuated following pre-treatment with diazepam, fluoxetine (both ip) or 5-HT1A receptor agonist (icv), but potentiated by 5-HT1A antagonist (icv). Concomitantly, an increase in the blood pressure, heart rate and NE in plasma, but a decrease in 5-HT and 5-HIAA in the CSF was noted. The animals showed activation of neuronal c-Fos in different brain areas compared to fasted or refed controls. Comparison with existing methods A novel animal paradigm for assessment of anger. Conclusions The protocol enables us to generate and evaluate anger-like responses in rat and permits insights into the neurological basis of anger.
... The OFC, which is included in the 'hot' orbitofrontalparalimbic system (Rubia, 2011), has been demonstrated to play a critical role in reward and punishment processing (O'doherty, 2004), recognition of angry expressions (Blair and Cipolotti, 2000) and reactive aggression (Blair, 2012). Along with ACC, OFC mediates top-down affect regulation via its interconnection with underlying limbic areas (Davidson et al., 2000;Rubia, 2011). ...
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Conduct disorder is one of the most common developmental psychiatric disorders which is characterized by persistent aggressive and antisocial behaviors during childhood or adolescence. Previous neuroimaging studies have investigated the neural correlates underlying CD and demonstrated several constructive findings. However, Individuals with CD are at high risk for comorbidities, which might give rise to the inconsistencies of existed findings. It remains unclear which neuroanatomical abnormalities are specifically related to CD without comorbidities. Using structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) data of 69 CD and 69 typically developing (TD) male youths (aged 14–17 years), the present study aims at investigating gray matter volume alterations of non-comorbid CD (i.e., not comorbid with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse disorder, anxiety or depression). We also examined how regional gray matter volumes were related to callous-unemotional (CU) traits and conduct problems in the CD group. The whole-brain analysis revealed decreased gray matter volumes in the right pre-postcentral cortex, supramarginal gyrus and right putamen in CD youths compared with TD youths. The region-of-interest analyses showed increased gray matter volumes in the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and right orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in CD youths. Correlation analysis found that gray matter volume in the left amygdala was negatively correlated with CU traits in CD participants. These results demonstrated that gray matter volume in the orbitofrontal-paralimbic cortex, including OFC, STG and amygdala, might characterize the male youths with non-comorbid CD and might contribute to different severe forms and trajectories of CD.
... Unexpectedly, the number of children and employment status were insignificant whereas anxiety related to support explained anger management difficulty only among all three anger sub-factors. From a cognitive neuroscience perspective, anger is the reaction of the human body s perceiving of a threat (Blair, 2012). Therefore, having difficulty controlling anger means having a hard 9 Parental Anger of Mothers with Young Children time in controlling one s self response to threatening events or targets, that is, tending to express anger easily. ...
... However, activity in lobule VI and Crus I was not specific for anger processing as the activity overlapped with cerebellar activity during fear processing. Importantly, both anger and fear are emotions that are elicited in response to threat (Blair, 2012;LeDoux, 2000), suggesting that these emotions share a common neural pathway that is involved in the processing of threat-related stimuli and that mediates autonomic fight-flight responses (Baumann & Mattingley, 2012). The subcortical circuit is likely to be implicated in this shared neural network, given its involvement in survival behaviors and association with affective attack (LeDoux, 2012;Panksepp & Zellner, 2004;Siegel & Pott, 1988). ...
... According to previous studies on the topic, high levels of anger and the inability to regulate it are positively related to problematic behaviors and misconducts, also including aggressive and/or violent behavior (Blair, 2012), which has led policymakers to consider anger as relevant mental health issue . Moreover, the capability to manage and cope with one's own anger was found to be in positive relation with good levels of mental health especially among older adults (Phillips et al., 2006). ...
Article
The adjustment of prison inmates is recently becoming a social concern. In the current study we focused on the role of gratitude, interpersonal forgiveness, and anger, which have been widely addressed as likely to influence people's health and adaptive behaviors, in shaping prison inmates' psychological wellbeing and criminal attitudes. Participants were 104 male prison inmates aged between 24 and 75 (Mage = 46.63, SD = 11.38) imprisoned in Northern Italy who were asked to fill in an anonymous self-report questionnaire. Results highlighted that all dimensions considered play an important, albeit different and highly specific, role; Gratitude is a promotional factor that enhances psychological wellbeing, whereas interpersonal forgiveness appears to be a protective factor against the adoption of a criminal attitude as violence or antisocial intent. Finally, anger is a risk factor toward both psychological wellbeing and violent behaviors. Implications of these results and further developments of the study are discussed.
... It is known that neural systems implicated in reactive aggression (amygdala, hypothalamus, and periaqueductal gray; the basic threat system) are critically implicated in anger (Blair, 2012). The high levels of estrogen in hormonal contraceptives may just be temporarily suppressing a portion of its function resulting in some atrophy, such as that which occurs in muscle tissue with lack of exercise. ...
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In the past decade, two large prospective cohort studies of British and American women have been conducted which found a statistically significant increase in the risk of violent death in ever-users of hormonal contraceptives. Research on the effects of hormonal contraceptives upon the behaviors of intimate partners and on the physiology of women using hormonal contraceptives has provided insight into the possible basis for the resulting increase in violent death. This review examines the changes that are potential contributors to the reported increase.
... Additionally, the level of experienced threat is expected to play a role in the individuals' response to threat. Low levels of threat will mainly lead to a freeze response, whereas higher levels of immediate threat will lead to a flight response, and high levels of immediate threat where avoidance of the threat is not possible will lead to reactive aggression [49,50]. In the current study we tested the influence of perceived threat, but did not specifically focus on threat situations where avoidance was hindered. ...
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A substantial proportion of youth with anxiety disorders shows comorbid behavioral (anger) problems. Such comorbid profile is associated with low treatment effectiveness and negative (longterm) outcomes. This study was therefore designed to examine trait factors that may promote anger responding in adolescents. By presenting participants (N = 158, mean age = 15.7, 56% female) with a series of common anger-eliciting situations, we tested whether high reward sensitivity would be associated with anger via perceived non-reward, and high punishment sensitivity via perceived threat. In line with the hypotheses, an indirect effect of reward sensitivity on anger was found via perceived non-reward, and an indirect effect of punishment sensitivity on anger via perceived threat. The latter association also had an indirect effect via perceived non-reward. High punishment and reward sensitivity may thus set adolescents at risk for developing (comorbid) anger problems via heightened threat and non-reward perceptions.
... The amygdala directly signals the hypothalamus when a potential threat is being perceived, whereas the hypothalamus is central to the regulation of the autonomic system and has a gain function to prepare the body for fight-flight behaviors. From there, fibers run to the periaqueductal gray of the midbrain, which, in the present context, activates the fight mode ( Mobbs et al., 2007 ), potentially initiating (defensive) aggressive behavior ( Blair, 2012( Blair, , 2001, as has been shown in cats and rodents ( Siegel et al., 1999 ). This subcortical circuit together with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and insula is part of the brain's salience network dedicated to detecting behaviorallyrelevant salient changes in internal states following external sensory input ( Seeley et al., 2007 ). ...
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New insights into the functional neuroanatomic correlates of emotions point toward the involvement of the cerebellum in anger and aggression. To identify cerebellar regions commonly activated in tasks examining the experience of anger and threat as well as exerting an aggressive response, two coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses reporting a total of 57 cerebellar activation foci from 819 participants were performed. For anger processing (18 studies), results showed significant clusters in the bilateral posterior cerebellum, overlapping with results from previous meta-analyses on emotion processing, and implying functional connectivity to cognitive, limbic, and social canonic networks in the cerebral cortex. By contrast, active aggression expression (10 studies) was associated with significant clusters in more anterior regions of the cerebellum, overlapping with cerebellar somatosensory and motor regions and displaying functional connectivity with the somatomotor and default mode network. This study not only strengthens the notion that the cerebellum is involved in emotion processing, but also provides the first quantitative evidence for distinct cerebellar functional activation patterns related to anger and aggression.
... Even though this correlation was exploratory in nature and significance does not survive Bonferroni correction when correcting for all AQ subscores, this association seems to confirm the validity of the AQ scale, i.e., participants with stronger affective reactivity to provocation report getting angry more frequently. This finding supports the role of the left amygdala activation as a bottom-up drive of angry impulses in men with more anger (Blair 2012). Higher amygdala activation in men vs. women in response to emotional stimuli has been observed regularly (Kret and De Gelder 2012). ...
Article
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Although sex differences in aggression have been investigated for decades, little is known about the underlying neurobiology of this phenomenon. To address this gap, the present study implemented a social reactive aggression paradigm in 20 women and 22 men, employing a modified Taylor Aggression Task (mTAT) to provoke aggressive behavior in an fMRI setting. Subjects were provoked by money subtraction from a fake opponent and given the opportunity to retaliate likewise. In the absence of behavioral differences, male and female subjects showed differential brain activation patterns in response to provocation. Men had higher left amygdala activation during high provocation. This amygdala activation correlated with trait anger scores in men, but not in women. Also, men showed a positive association between orbitofrontal cortex, rectal gyrus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity in the provocation contrast and their tendency to respond aggressively, whereas women displayed a negative association. As the rectal gyrus and OFC have been attributed a crucial role in automatic emotion regulation, this finding points toward the assumption that highly aggressive men use automatic emotion regulation to a greater extent in response to provocation compared to highly aggressive women.
... Aggressive behaviour, both prior to age 15 and over the lifespan, was positively correlated with the grey matter volume of the hypothalamus. The amygdala-hypothalamus-periaqueductal grey system within the midbrain is thought to mediate reactive aggression in response to a real or perceived threat (Blair 2012;White et al. 2016). In another study, offenders with schizophrenia and prior CD showed neural activations similar to those of non-mentally ill offenders with prior CD and different from other men with schizophrenia and no CD when completing Theory of Mind tasks (Brune 2005). ...
Article
People with schizophrenia and a history of violence towards others require treatment both for schizophrenia and for aggressive, and often, antisocial behaviour. This chapter reviews evidence showing that effective treatments could be provided much earlier in the lives of offenders with schizophrenia and hypothesizes that a re‐organization of mental health services to this end would reduce human suffering and costs to the health and criminal justice systems. It describes the evidence to support the proposition that there exist sub‐types of offenders with schizophrenia who present differing treatment needs and that assessment and treatment of aggressive and antisocial behaviour could be initiated when they emerge. One of the principal symptoms of schizophrenia is positive psychotic symptoms. It is often assumed that these psychotic symptoms ‘cause’ aggressive behaviour amongst people with schizophrenia. During an acute episode of psychosis, when positive psychotic symptoms are very high, many men and women with schizophrenia engage in aggressive behaviour.
... The themes of narcissistic injury and the inability to integrate conflicting experiences are keys for interpretation also in the evolutionary perspective, particularly in Kohut's concept of narcissistic anger. Narcissistic injuries, as the result of the lack of an empathic relationship, indicate that archaic structures, instead of being integrated and balanced, are disconnected and MJCP|8, 1, 2020 Paola Manfredi 8 repressed, and they can reappear in threatening situations. Narcissistic wounds, in particular, can arouse feelings of embarrassment and anger, but also of shame and violent rage (Augburger, 1996). ...
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Abstract Introduction: Aggressiveness is an essential component of every living thing and the experience of anger is common to all historical periods, all ages and all mental structures. Different forms and narrative ways of anger can be found in each society and can, therefore, become indicators of some aspects of society itself. Method: Starting from the emphasis that our society attributes to forms of anger and violence and their narration as incomprehensible, the scientific contributions on the subject and some characteristics of our culture are highlighted. Our society, on one hand, increases the triggers suitable to trigger anger, on the other silences and disapproves all forms of anger and even aggressiveness. Conclusions: There is a discrepancy between scientific contributions and the representation of anger in the media. The cultural operation for which we focus only on extreme episodes and repress the presence of other universal forms of anger seems to respond not only to the need to make the news but seems to indicate difficulties and defense mechanisms against aggressiveness and anger (potentially healthy and universal). It is also a way of not seeing our social responsibility and is also a missed opportunity to think about effective prevention
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Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute - Center for Continuing Education y la Universidad del Cauca – Colombia presenta el segundo volumen de publicaciones cortas y de opinión en neurología clínica. Contenido : **Artículo No 1. El cerebro involucrado en la ira. _________ Página (7) **Artículo No 2. ¿Existe utilidad de la estimulación cerebral profunda? _________ Página (9) **Artículo No 3. Repercusiones cerebrales: Palos y piedras en la neuro conducción. _________ Página (10) **Artículo No 4. Tractografía: En los métodos de neuro Imágen, el diablo siempre está en los detalles. _________ Página (12) **Artículo No 5. El conectoma humano: nuevo reto científico. _________ Página (14) **Artículo No 6. Conectoma humano correlación con epilepsia. _________ Página (16) **Datos para investigadores: Lecturas Recomendadas. _________ Página (18)
Article
Background: Previous evidence about facial emotion recognition capability in obesity is few and not conclusive. Objective: We investigated the capability of female individuals affected by obesity to recognize the emotions of fear and anger through a facial emotion recognition task grounded on the implicit redundant target effect. Methods: 20 women affected by obesity and 20 healthy-weight women were enrolled. We administered an implicit facial emotion recognition task. Both reaction time and level of accuracy were computed. Moreover, the level of alexithymia was measured through the standard questionnaire. Results: Selective difficulties in recognizing the emotion of fear were observed in participants with obesity, when their performance was contrasted with healthy-weight controls. Instead, they showed the implicit redundant target effect when anger was the target. However, the two groups reported globally similar scores at the standard questionnaire relative to the level of alexithymia. Conclusions: Our result might agree with the hypothesis about affected individuals' difficulties in being attentive to negative facial emotions, and specifically in the case of fearful expression. This study might encourage future research in which emotional processing will be investigated through subjective judgments and implicit/objective measurements. Level i: Experimental study.
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Background: Drug abuse problem is one of the four global crises and the most important social crisis in Iran. This study was conducted to investigate the importance of life skills training in preventing the recurrence of addiction among young people. Methods: The present article is a narrative review performed by two researchers between January and February 2020 by searching in scientific databases in articles published in Scopus, PubMed, Google scholar and Google search engine including the terms “addiction”, “youth” , “Coping skills”, “adaptability skills”, “life skills training”, and “drug abuse”. Results: The results of various studies indicate that the life skills training program increases the feeling of happiness, improves the quality of life of people, and increases the ability to control emotions. Conclusion: Due to the positive impact of life skills training and its applicability to all segments of society, planners and managers in the community’s mental health sector can set up centers to continuously hold such classes and conduct life skills training even as in-service training program.
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Anger and aggression have large impact on people’s safety and the society at large. In order to provide an intervention to minimise aggressive behaviours, it is important to understand the neural and cognitive aspects of anger and aggression. In this systematic review, we investigate the cognitive and neural aspects of anger-related processes, including anger-related behaviours and anger reduction. Using this information, we then review prior existing methods on the treatment of anger-related disorders as well as anger management, including mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy. At the cognitive level, our review that anger is associated with excessive attention to anger-related stimuli and impulsivity. At the neural level, anger is associated with abnormal functioning of the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. In conclusions, based on cognitive and neural studies, we here argue that mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy may be better at reducing anger and aggression than other behavioural treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or mindfulness alone. We provide key information on future research work and best ways to manage anger and reduce aggression. Importantly, future research should investigate how anger related behaviours is acquired and how stress impacts the development of anger.
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Chapter
Anger is a common emotional response to perceived provocation by another person or entity. It can emerge from feelings of frustration and manifest itself episodically or chronically. Multiple brain areas are linked to the subjective experience and expression of anger, including the amygdala-hypothalamus-periaqueductal gray system, the frontal cortices, as well as the anterior cingulate cortices. Despite its frequent negative portrayal, and general view that it can cause serious impairment, anger remains a social emotion, which can serve adaptive purposes in organizational settings. Specifically, researchers in organizational behavior have recently focused on the benefits of moral anger (i.e., when anger arises from feelings of moral violations and actions to rectify the situation ensue) in optimizing organizational functioning. The following chapter examines anger in three parts: (1) defining anger and theoretical models of anger expression; (2) the positive and negative effects of anger expression in the workplace; and (3) ways in which anger can be used constructively in organizations. The overarching aim is to examine the construct of anger in an organizational context and to present evidence from research in organizational behavior, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience that supports the idea that anger, especially moral anger, expression in the workplace can lead to better individual and collective behaviors and serve to maintain ethical organizational practices.
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The principle aim of the current dissertation research is twofold. Firstly, we aim to provide a conceptual clarification about the main concepts of interest, namely (reactive) aggression, and impulsivity (García-Forero, Gallardo-Pujol, Maydeu-Olivares, & Andrés-Pueyo, 2009). Secondly, the work in this dissertation aims to unravel the neurocognitive correlates as well as possible vulnerability factors of aggression and impulsivity in a forensic population. In the first research part of the thesis we aim to both address conceptual controversy and to provide definitions plus concrete models of reactive aggression and impulsivity for forensic practice. Consequently, in the dissertation we start with definitions, assessment models and suggestions for interventions regarding (reactive) aggression and impulsivity (Chapter 1 and 2). In the second part of the dissertation we present paradigms able to provoke anger that might result in reactive aggression (Blair, 2012). In order to investigate reactive aggression in a controlled setting, it is necessary to investigate the effectiveness of provocation paradigms within violent offender populations (Chapter 3). Next we investigated different rneurocognitive correlates and vulnerability factors of reactive aggression as well as impulsivity (Chapter 4, 5 and 6).
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Third-party punishment has recently received attention as an explanation for human altruism. Feelings of anger in response to norm violations are assumed to motivate third-party sanctions, yet there is only sparse and indirect support for this idea. We investigated the impact of both anger and guilt feelings on third-party sanctions. In two studies both emotions were independently manipulated. Results show that anger and guilt independently constitute sufficient but not necessary causes of punishment. Low levels of punishment are observed only when neither emotion is elicited. We discuss the implications of these findings for the functions of altruistic sanctions.
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Instrumental conditioning studies how animals and humans choose actions appropriate to the affective structure of an environment. According to recent reinforcement learning models, two distinct components are involved: a “critic,” which learns to predict future reward, and an “actor,” which maintains information about the rewarding outcomes of actions to enable better ones to be chosen more frequently. We scanned human participants with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they engaged in instrumental conditioning. Our results suggest partly dissociable contributions of the ventral and dorsal striatum, with the former corresponding to the critic and the latter corresponding to the actor.
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Eleven predictions derived from the recalibrational theory of anger were tested. This theory proposes that anger is produced by a neurocognitive program engineered by natural selection to use bargaining tactics to resolve conflicts of interest in favor of the angry individual. The program is designed to orchestrate two interpersonal negotiating tactics (conditionally inflicting costs or conditionally withholding benefits) to incentivize the target of the anger to place greater weight on the welfare of the angry individual. Individuals with enhanced abilities to inflict costs (e.g., stronger individuals) or to confer benefits (e.g., attractive individuals) have a better bargaining position in conflicts; hence, it was predicted that such individuals will be more prone to anger, prevail more in conflicts of interest, and consider themselves entitled to better treatment. These predictions were confirmed. Consistent with an evolutionary analysis, the effect of strength on anger was greater for men and the effect of attractiveness on anger was greater for women. Also as predicted, stronger men had a greater history of fighting than weaker men, and more strongly endorsed the efficacy of force to resolve conflicts--both in interpersonal and international conflicts. The fact that stronger men favored greater use of military force in international conflicts provides evidence that the internal logic of the anger program reflects the ancestral payoffs characteristic of a small-scale social world rather than rational assessments of modern payoffs in large populations.
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Genetic risk may predispose individuals to compromised anger regulation, potentially through modulation of brain responses to emotionally evocative stimuli. Emphatically expressed, the emotional word No can prohibit behavior through conditioning. In a recent functional magnetic resonance imaging study, the authors showed that healthy males attribute negative valence to No while showing a lateral orbitofrontal response that correlated with their self-reported anger control. Here, the authors examined the influence of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene (low vs. high transcription variants) on brain response to No and in relationship to trait anger reactivity and control. The orbitofrontal response did not differ as a function of the genotype. Instead, carriers of the low-MAOA genotype had reduced left middle frontal gyrus activation to No compared with the high variant. Furthermore, only for carriers of the up low-MAOA genotype, left amygdala and posterior thalamic activation to No increased with anger reactivity. Thus, vulnerability to aggression in carriers of the low-MAOA genotype is supported by decreased middle frontal response to No and the unique amygdala/thalamus association pattern in this group with anger reactivity but not anger control.
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Although early-onset conduct problems predict both psychiatric and health problems in adult life, little research has been done to index neural correlates of conduct problems. Emerging research suggests that a subgroup of children with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits may be genetically vulnerable to manifesting disturbances in neural reactivity to emotional stimuli indexing distress. Using functional MRI, the authors evaluated differences in neural response to emotional stimuli between boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits and comparison boys. Seventeen boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits and 13 comparison boys of equivalent age (mean=11 years) and IQ (mean=100) viewed blocked presentations of fearful and neutral faces. For each face, participants distinguished the sex of the face via manual response. Relative to the comparison group, boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits manifested lesser right amygdala activity to fearful faces. This finding is in line with data from studies of adults with antisocial behavior and callous-unemotional traits (i.e., psychopaths), as well as from a recent study of adolescents with callous-unemotional traits, and suggests that the neural substrates of emotional impairment associated with callous-unemotional antisocial behavior are already present in childhood.
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Prison psychopaths and nonpsychopaths performed a card-playing task involving monetary rewards and punishments under three conditions. In all conditions, the probability of punishment increased by 10% with every block of 10 cards from 10% to 100%. The dependent measure—number of cards played before terminating the task—provided a measure of response perseveration. As predicted, psychopaths played significantly more cards (and lost more money) than did nonpsychopaths when the task involved immediate feedback only. Although providing subjects with a display illustrating their cumulative response feedback did little to reduce this deficit, there were no group differences apparent when cumulative feedback was accompanied by a 5-s waiting period during which subjects were prevented from making another response. The results suggest that procedures designed to reduce psychopaths' maladaptive perseveration by imposing a delay between response feedback and the next opportunity to respond may prove clinically important.
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A group of patients with damage to the ventral part of the frontal lobes was severely impaired relative to a group of patients without damage in this area (the non-ventral group) in the reversal and in the extinction of simple visual discrimination tests. In these tests they continued to make responses to a previously rewarded stimulus. Patients often reported verbally that the contingencies had changed, but were unable to alter their behaviour appropriately. These impairments occurred independently of IQ or verbal memory impairments. The perseverative touching of a previously rewarded stimulus is consistent with work with non-human primates showing impaired reversal and extinction after orbitofrontal lesions. Performance on these reversal and extinction tests was highly correlated with scores obtained on a behaviour questionnaire, which reflected the degree of disinhibited and socially inappropriate behaviour exhibited by patients. It is suggested that a difficulty in modifying responses, especially when followed by negative consequences, as manifested in these simple laboratory tests, may contribute to the inappropriate behaviour shown in daily life by patients with frontal lobe damage.
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The primate orbitofrontal cortex contains the secondary taste cortex, in which the reward value of taste is represented. It also contains the secondary and tertiary olfactory cortical areas, in which information about the identity and also about the reward value of odors is represented. The orbitofrontal cortex also receives information about the sight of objects and faces from the temporal lobe cortical visual areas, and neurons in it learn and reverse the visual stimulus to which they respond when the association of the visual stimulus with a primary reinforcing stimulus (such as a taste reward) is reversed. However, the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in representing negative reinforcers (punishers) too, such as aversive taste, and in rapid stimulus-reinforcement association learning for both positive and negative primary reinforcers. In complementary neuroimaging studies in humans it is being found that areas of the orbitofrontal cortex (and connected subgenual cingulate cortex) are activated by pleasant touch, by painful touch, by rewarding and aversive taste, and by odor. Damage to the orbitofrontal cortex in humans can impair the learning and reversal of stimulus- reinforcement associations, and thus the correction of behavioral responses when these are no longer appropriate because previous reinforcement contingencies change. This evidence thus shows that the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in decoding and representing some primary reinforcers such as taste and touch; in learning and reversing associations of visual and other stimuli to these primary reinforcers; and in controlling and correcting reward-related and punishment-related behavior, and thus in emotion.
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In this study, we report a patient (J.S.) who, following trauma to the right frontal region, including the orbitofrontal cortex, presented with 'acquired sociopathy'. His behaviour was notably aberrant and marked by high levels of aggression and a callous disregard for others. A series of experimental investigations were conducted to address the cognitive dysfunction that might underpin his profoundly aberrant behaviour. His performance was contrasted with that of a second patient (C.L.A.), who also presented with a grave dysexecutive syndrome but no socially aberrant behaviour, and five inmates of Wormwood Scrubs prison with developmental psychopathy. While J.S. showed no reversal learning impairment, he presented with severe difficulty in emotional expression recognition, autonomic responding and social cognition. Unlike the comparison populations, J.S. showed impairment in: the recognition of, and autonomic responding to, angry and disgusted expressions; attributing the emotions of fear, anger and embarrassment to story protagonists; and the identification of violations of social behaviour. The findings are discussed with reference to models regarding the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in the control of aggression. It is suggested that J.S.'s impairment is due to a reduced ability to generate expectations of others' negative emotional reactions, in particular anger. In healthy individuals, these representations act to suppress behaviour that is inappropriate in specific social contexts. Moreover, it is proposed that the orbitofrontal cortex may be implicated specifically either in the generation of these expectations or the use of these expectations to suppress inappropriate behaviour.
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Emotion is normally regulated in the human brain by a complex circuit consisting of the orbital frontal cortex, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and several other interconnected regions. There are both genetic and environmental contributions to the structure and function of this circuitry. We posit that impulsive aggression and violence arise as a consequence of faulty emotion regulation. Indeed, the prefrontal cortex receives a major serotonergic projection, which is dysfunctional in individuals who show impulsive violence. Individuals vulnerable to faulty regulation of negative emotion are at risk for violence and aggression. Research on the neural circuitry of emotion regulation suggests new avenues of intervention for such at-risk populations.
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A fundamental question about the relationship between cognition and emotion concerns the neural substrate underlying emotional self-regulation. To address this issue, brain activation was measured in normal male subjects while they either responded in a normal manner to erotic film excerpts or voluntarily attempted to inhibit the sexual arousal induced by viewing erotic stimuli. Results demonstrated that the sexual arousal experienced, in response to the erotic film excerpts, was associated with activation in "limbic" and paralimbic structures, such as the right amygdala, right anterior temporal pole, and hypothalamus. In addition, the attempted inhibition of the sexual arousal generated by viewing the erotic stimuli was associated with activation of the right superior frontal gyrus and right anterior cingulate gyrus. No activation was found in limbic areas. These findings reinforce the view that emotional self-regulation is normally implemented by a neural circuit comprising various prefrontal regions and subcortical limbic structures. They also suggest that humans have the capacity to influence the electrochemical dynamics of their brains, by voluntarily changing the nature of the mind processes unfolding in the psychological space.
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Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike other creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small or absent. These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism. Here we show experimentally that the altruistic punishment of defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation. Altruistic punishment means that individuals punish, although the punishment is costly for them and yields no material gain. We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out. The evidence indicates that negative emotions towards defectors are the proximate mechanism behind altruistic punishment. These results suggest that future study of the evolution of human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining altruistic punishment.
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The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices (ACd) are considered important for reward-based decision making. However, work distinguishing their individual functional contributions has only begun. One aspect of decision making that has received little attention is that making the right choice often translates to making the better choice. Thus, response choice often occurs in situations where both options are desirable (e.g., choosing between mousse au chocolat or crème caramel cheesecake from a menu) or, alternatively, in situations where both options are undesirable. Moreover, response choice is easier when the reinforcements associated with the objects are far apart, rather than close together, in value. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to delineate the functional roles of the vmPFC and ACd by investigating these two aspects of decision making: (1) decision form (i.e., choosing between two objects to gain the greater reward or the lesser punishment), and (2) between-object reinforcement distance (i.e., the difference in reinforcements associated with the two objects). Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses within the ACd and vmPFC were both related to decision form but differentially. Whereas ACd showed greater responses when deciding between objects to gain the lesser punishment, vmPFC showed greater responses when deciding between objects to gain the greater reward. Moreover, vmPFC was sensitive to reinforcement expectations associated with both the chosen and the forgone choice. In contrast, BOLD responses within ACd, but not vmPFC, related to between-object reinforcement distance, increasing as the distance between the reinforcements of the two objects decreased. These data are interpreted with reference to models of ACd and vmPFC functioning.
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Because the processing capacity of the visual system is limited, selective attention to one part of the visual field comes at the cost of neglecting other parts. In this paper, we review evidence from single-cell studies in monkeys and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in humans for neural competition and how competition is biased by, attention. We Suggest that, at the neural level, an important consequence of attention is to enhance the influence of behaviorally relevant stimuli at the expense of irrelevant ones, providing a mechanism for the filtering of distracting information in Cluttered visual scenes. Psychophysical evidence suggests that processing outside the focus of attention is attenuated and may be even eliminated under some conditions. A major exception to the critical role of attention may be in the neural processing of emotion-laden stimuli, which are reported to be processed automatically, namely. without attention. Contrary to this prevailing view, in a recent study we found that all brain regions responding differentially to faces with emotional content, including the amygdala, did so only when sufficient resources were available to process those faces. After reviewing our findings, we discuss their implications, in particular (1) how emotional stimuli can bias competition for processing resources; (2) the source of the biasing signal for emotional stimuli: (3) how Visual information reaches the amygdala; and finally (4) the relationship between attention and awareness.
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Observations were made in 10 preschools of interactions in 2 domains of social events: social conventional and moral. On the basis of criteria defining each domain, observed events could be reliably classified as social conventional or moral. As another aspect of the study, an interview was administered to children from the preschool who had witnessed the same events as the observer. The children's view of the events as social conventional or moral was in agreement with our classifications of the events in 83% of the cases. It was hypothesized that the responses of both children and adults to social conventional events differ from their responses to moral events. Observed behaviors were rated on a standard checklist of response categories. Different types of responses were elicited by the 2 types of events. Almost all responses to social conventional transgressions were initiated by adults. Children and adults responded with equal frequency to moral transgressions. Adults responded to social conventional transgressions differently from the ways they reacted to moral transgressions.
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Reports an error in "The role of ventral and orbital prefrontal cortex in conditional visuomotor learning and strategy use in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)." by Timothy J. Bussey, Steven P. Wise and Elisabeth A. Murray (Behavioral Neuroscience, 2001[Oct], Vol 115[5], 971-982). In Figure 1 (p. 974), the extent of the intended lesions in the sections 32 and 28 mm from the interaural plane was misprinted. The correctly printed figure is shown in the erratum. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2001-18882-001.) Four rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were trained to learn novel sets of visuomotor associations in 50 trials or less, within single test sessions. After bilateral ablation of the orbital and ventral prefrontal cortex, the monkeys lost the ability to learn these associations within a session, although they could learn them when given several daily sessions. Thus, relatively slow, across-session visuomotor learning depends on neither the ventral nor orbital prefrontal cortex, but rapid, within-session learning does. The ablations also eliminated at least 2 response strategies, repeat-stay and lose-shift, which might account, in part, for the deficit in rapid learning. The deficit is unlikely to result from a failure of visual discriminative ability or working memory: The monkeys could discriminate similar stimulus material within a session, and reducing the working memory load did not improve within-session learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Parochial altruism--a preference for altruistic behavior towards ingroup members and mistrust or hostility towards outgroup members--is a pervasive feature in human society and strongly shapes the enforcement of social norms. Since the uniqueness of human society critically depends on the enforcement of norms, the understanding of the neural circuitry of the impact of parochial altruism on social norm enforcement is key, but unexplored. To fill this gap, we measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects had the opportunity to punish ingroup members and outgroup members for violating social norms. Findings revealed that subjects' strong punishment of defecting outgroup members is associated with increased activity in a functionally connected network involved in sanction-related decisions (right orbitofrontal gyrus, right lateral prefrontal cortex, right dorsal caudatus). Moreover, the stronger the connectivity in this network, the more outgroup members are punished. In contrast, the much weaker punishment of ingroup members who committed the very same norm violation is associated with increased activity and connectivity in the mentalizing-network (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, bilateral temporo-parietal junction), as if subjects tried to understand or justify ingroup members' behavior. Finally, connectivity analyses between the two networks suggest that the mentalizing-network modulates punishment by affecting the activity in the right orbitofrontal gyrus and right lateral prefrontal cortex, notably in the same areas showing enhanced activity and connectivity whenever third-parties strongly punished defecting outgroup members.
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Dysfunction in the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex has been reported in youths and adults with psychopathic traits. The specific nature of the functional irregularities within these structures remains poorly understood. The authors used a passive avoidance task to examine the responsiveness of these systems to early stimulus-reinforcement exposure, when prediction errors are greatest and learning maximized, and to reward in youths with psychopathic traits and comparison youths. While performing the passive avoidance learning task, 15 youths with conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder plus a high level of psychopathic traits and 15 healthy subjects completed a 3.0-T fMRI scan. Relative to the comparison youths, the youths with a disruptive behavior disorder plus psychopathic traits showed less orbitofrontal responsiveness both to early stimulus-reinforcement exposure and to rewards, as well as less caudate response to early stimulus-reinforcement exposure. There were no group differences in amygdala responsiveness to these two task measures, but amygdala responsiveness throughout the task was lower in the youths with psychopathic traits. Compromised sensitivity to early reinforcement information in the orbitofrontal cortex and caudate and to reward outcome information in the orbitofrontal cortex of youths with conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder plus psychopathic traits suggests that the integrated functioning of the amygdala, caudate, and orbitofrontal cortex may be disrupted. This provides a functional neural basis for why such youths are more likely to repeat disadvantageous decisions. New treatment possibilities are raised, as pharmacologic modulations of serotonin and dopamine can affect this form of learning.
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We investigated anger-related variability in the BOLD fMRI response to crude/masked and detailed/unmasked fearful faces. Anger expression positively covaried with amygdala activation to crude fear, while trait anger negatively covaried with amygdala responses to detailed fear. This differential processing may trigger aggression without the subsequent inhibition associated with distress cues.
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Legal decision-making in criminal contexts includes two essential functions performed by impartial “third parties:” assessing responsibility and determining an appropriate punishment. To explore the neural underpinnings of these processes, we scanned subjects with fMRI while they determined the appropriate punishment for crimes that varied in perpetrator responsibility and crime severity. Activity within regions linked to affective processing (amygdala, medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortex) predicted punishment magnitude for a range of criminal scenarios. By contrast, activity in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex distinguished between scenarios on the basis of criminal responsibility, suggesting that it plays a key role in third-party punishment. The same prefrontal region has previously been shown to be involved in punishing unfair economic behavior in two-party interactions, raising the possibility that the cognitive processes supporting third-party legal decision-making and second-party economic norm enforcement may be supported by a common neural mechanism in human prefrontal cortex.
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By Joaquin M. Fuster. 1997. Pp. 352. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.Price £60. ISBN 0-397-51849-8. In the first edition of The Prefrontal Cortex the author set out his hypothesis concerning the functions of the prefrontal association cortex. These are conceived as being not modality specific but as integrative in nature, orchestrating the \`sensory' and \`motor' functions of the posterior and anterior association cortices in …
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Though practice can lead to improved performance in many domains, it is currently unknown how practice affects the deployment of selective attention to filter distracting information. We conducted a series of experiments to address this issue by examining how performance on a task changed after repeated exposure to distractors. Distraction initially slowed response time during task performance, an effect that diminished with repeated exposure to the distractors. When the distractors were consistent in appearance, the practice effect developed quickly but was stimulus-specific. When the distractors were more variable in appearance, the practice effect developed slowly but transferred more readily to other conditions. These data indicate that practice with overcoming distraction leads to improvements in information filtering mechanisms that generalize beyond the training regimen when variable distractor stimuli are experienced.
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Recent findings have highlighted the importance of DARPP-32 (dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein, 32 kDa), a key regulatory molecule in the dopaminergic signalling pathway for dopamine related phenotypes like antisocial-behavior, drug addiction and schizophrenia. This is the first study investigating the role of the DARPP-32 gene for personality. In a sample of n=838 healthy German Caucasian subjects we found a significant association between rs907094 and ANGER. Carriers of the T-allele showed significantly higher ANGER scores than participants without a T-allele (F((1,837))=9.52, p=0.002). In a second step we validated self-report data of ANGER by investigating their relation to structural brain differences in anger-related brain regions using voxel-based morphometry. A negative association between ANGER scores and the volume of the left amygdala could be detected. The present findings yield genetic evidence for the importance of dopaminergic signal transduction for the personality trait of ANGER. In addition volumetric MRI data support the role of the amygdala for the processing of anger.
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Psychopathy is a developmental disorder marked by emotional hyporesponsiveness and an increased risk for instrumental and reactive aggression. The increased risk for reactive aggression is the focus of the current paper. It will be argued that the increased risk for reactive aggression does not relate to an increased sensitivity to threatening stimuli since psychopathy is associated with a reduced sensitivity to threat. Instead, it is argued that the increased risk for reactive aggression relates to an increased risk for frustration; i.e., the emotional state following the performance of an action in the expectation of a particular reward and not receiving this reward. Two impairments seen in psychopathy would increase the risk for frustration and consequent potential reactive aggression; impairments in stimulus-reinforcement learning and reversal learning. It is argued that both are known consequences of impairment in ventromedial prefrontal cortex, one of the regions principally implicated in psychopathy.