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Anticipation for future confers great benefits to human well-being and mental health. However, previous work focus on how people’s well-being correlate with brain activities during perception of emotional stimuli, rather than anticipation for the future events. Here, the current study investigated how well-being relates to neural circuitry underlying the anticipating process of future desired events. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, 40 participants were scanned while they were performing an emotion anticipation task, in which they were instructed to anticipate the positive or neutral events. The results showed that bilateral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) were activated during anticipation for positive events relative to neutral events, and the enhanced brain activation in MPFC was associated with higher level of well-being. The findings suggest a neural mechanism by which the anticipation process to future desired events correlates to human well-being, which provide a future-oriented view on the neural sources of well-being.
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fpsyg-08-02199 January 6, 2018 Time: 16:23 # 1
published: 09 January 2018
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02199
Edited by:
Marco Tamietto,
Tilburg University, Netherlands
Reviewed by:
Matteo Diano,
Tilburg University, Netherlands
Jan Van den Stock,
KU Leuven, Belgium
Xiting Huang
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Emotion Science,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 01 June 2017
Accepted: 04 December 2017
Published: 09 January 2018
Luo Y, Chen X, Qi S, You X and
Huang X (2018) Well-being
and Anticipation for Future Positive
Events: Evidences from an fMRI
Study. Front. Psychol. 8:2199.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02199
Well-being and Anticipation for
Future Positive Events: Evidences
from an fMRI Study
Yangmei Luo1,2, Xuhai Chen1, Senqing Qi3, Xuqun You1and Xiting Huang2*
1Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Behavior and Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an,
China, 2Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality of Ministry of Education, School of Psychology, Southwest University,
Chongqing, China, 3Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Modern Teaching Technology, Shaanxi Normal University,
Xi’an, China
Anticipation for future confers great benefits to human well-being and mental health.
However, previous work focus on how people’s well-being correlate with brain activities
during perception of emotional stimuli, rather than anticipation for the future events.
Here, the current study investigated how well-being relates to neural circuitry underlying
the anticipating process of future desired events. Using event-related functional
magnetic resonance imaging, 40 participants were scanned while they were performing
an emotion anticipation task, in which they were instructed to anticipate the positive
or neutral events. The results showed that bilateral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)
were activated during anticipation for positive events relative to neutral events, and
the enhanced brain activation in MPFC was associated with higher level of well-being.
The findings suggest a neural mechanism by which the anticipation process to future
desired events correlates to human well-being, which provide a future-oriented view on
the neural sources of well-being.
Keywords: well-being, anticipation, positive affect, fMRI, medial prefrontal cortex
As well-being is the central construct in positive psychology (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi,
2000), substantial interest has been directed at delineating the sources of well-being. However,
studies of well-being have been limited by the static, single point-in-time view (Gallagher et al.,
2009). In particular, most of previous work focus on how peoples well-being correlate with
brain activities during the perception of emotional events (e.g., van Reekum et al., 2007;Heller
et al., 2013;Cunningham and Kirkland, 2014), rather than the anticipation for the upcoming
events. For example, when emotional events were showed, happy people relative to their unhappy
peers showed greater amygdala responses to positive stimuli (Cunningham and Kirkland, 2014),
greater ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) responses to negative stimuli (van Reekum et al.,
2007). However, given that how people construct their future is a central organizing feature of
perception, cognition, affect, memory, motivation, and action (Seligman et al., 2013), it is important
to elucidate how anticipation for future contribute to people’s well-being, which can provide a
dynamic, future-oriented view on the sources of well-being.
Anticipation, paying attention to the upcoming stimulus predicted by a contextual cue
(Bermpohl et al., 2006), has important implications in human well-being and mental health.
Anticipation confers important evolutionary benefits to human beings. Specifically, expecting
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Luo et al. Well-being and Positive Anticipation
the forthcoming events allow active preparations in cognitive,
affective, and behavioral strategies (Grupe et al., 2013), which
ensure survival in the changing and potential challenging
environment (Gilbert and Wilson, 2007). Furthermore, the
deficits of anticipation of future experience have been associated
with extreme low levels of well-being, such as depression
(MacLeod and Byrne, 1996;Abler et al., 2007) and anxiety
(Nitschke et al., 2009;Boehme et al., 2014;Heitmann et al.,
2014). Nitschke et al. (2009) found patients with generalized
anxiety disorder differed from healthy control by showing
hyperactivity in the amygdala when anticipating future aversive
events. Together, it is necessary to investigate how neural
circuitry underlying the anticipation for future events related to
Due to the fact that exaggerated negative anticipation
contributes to the development and maintenance of emotional-
related disorders (e.g., Abler et al., 2007;Nitschke et al.,
2009;Aupperle et al., 2012;Boehme et al., 2014), most of
previous studies focus on the neural circuitry during the
anticipation of negative events (Nitschke et al., 2006;Herwig
et al., 2007, 2010;Sarinopoulos et al., 2010;Yang et al., 2012;
Grupe et al., 2013). However, it is argued that the anticipation
of positive events is a key element of well-being (MacLeod
and Conway, 2005), and thus deserving greater attention. On
the one hand, the clinical literature shows there are distinct
relationships between emotional disorders and positive or
negative anticipation. For example, relative to healthy people,
anxious people anticipated more negative future experiences,
whereas depressed or parasuicidal people anticipated less positive
future experiences, but did not anticipate more future negative
events (MacLeod and Byrne, 1996;MacLeod et al., 1997). On
the other hand, the studies in healthy samples demonstrate
anticipating the positive events increases reward sensitivity
(Gable et al., 2003), enhances the memory of positive stimuli
(Crowell and Schmeichel, 2016), induces positive affect (Monfort
et al., 2015), and relates to higher levels of well-being (MacLeod
and Conway, 2005). A recent study found anticipating positive
events (e.g., a funny cartoon) were a convenient and powerful
way to induce positive emotion, which in turn improving
stress coping (e.g., coping to a public speech) (Monfort et al.,
2015). Taken together, these findings underline the distinctions
between positive and negative anticipation and emphasize the
contribution of the positive anticipation of future in people’s
well-being (MacLeod and Conway, 2005).
Therefore, the current study focused on neural correlates of
the relationship between well-being and anticipation for future
desirable events. We intended to address this issue by employing
the emotional anticipation task when participants were scanned
by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Given that
the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) involve in the
anticipating process (Nitschke et al., 2006;Bermpohl et al., 2008;
Scherpiet et al., 2014), we hypothesized that the amygdala and
MPFC would be activated during anticipating positive stimuli.
Also, given the key role of amygdala in emotion processing
(Davis and Whalen, 2001;Phelps and LeDoux, 2005;Sergerie
et al., 2008) and different functional coupling between amygdala
and prefrontal areas in various emotion processing (Lee et al.,
2012;Diano et al., 2016, 2017;Di et al., 2017), we conducted
psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis using left and
right amygdala seeds. We hypothesized that positive anticipation
would modulate functional coupling between amygdala and
prefrontal cortex. Moreover, based on the close relationship
between anticipation of future positive events and well-being
(MacLeod and Conway, 2005;Monfort et al., 2015), we also
hypothesized that the activation of these regions would correlate
with the people’s well-being.
Forty right-handed participants (males/females, 15/25; mean
age =21.45 ±1.74), with no history of neurological disorders and
psychiatric disorders, were recruited among undergraduate and
postgraduates populations. In accordance with the Declaration
of Helsinki, written informed consent was obtained from all
participants. The study protocol was approved by the Ethics
Committee of the Southwest University. All participants were
paid for their participation.
Experimental Protocol and Stimuli
The stimuli were carefully selected from the Chinese Affective
Picture System (CAPS) (Bai et al., 2005). We selected the
stimuli from the CAPS instead of international affective picture
system (Lang et al., 1997), because the CAPS is a collection of
standardized photographic materials in the context of eastern
culture to avoid cultural bias in emotional studies. However,
the developing procedure of CAPS is identical to that of the
international affective picture system (Bai et al., 2005). The
stimuli from CAPS were successfully used to investigate the
neural correlates of anticipation and perception of emotional
events in previous studies (e.g., Yuan et al., 2007;Lin et al.,
2012). Of these pictures, 52 depicted positive scenes (e.g., smiling
kids, hugging, celebration, wedding, etc.), and 52 depicted neutral
scenes (house appliances, pedestrians, a working man, women
doing handwork, etc.). There were significant differences in
valence (positive pictures: M=6.97, SD =0.21, max =7.54,
min =6.50; neutral pictures: M=5.39, SD =0.25, max =5.88,
min =4.68) (t=36.47, df =51, p<0.001) and arousal (positive
pictures: M=6.07, SD =0.42, max =7.22, min =5.29; neutral
pictures: mean =4.15, SD =0.32, max =4.80, min =3.54)
between positive pictures and neutral pictures (t=28.09, df =51,
p<0.001). There were no significant differences in valence and
arousal among four fMRI runs for positive and neutral images,
respectively (ps>0.05). All the images were identical in size
and resolution (433 pixel ×325 pixel, 72 pixels per inch). Mean
luminance and contrast were balanced between two conditions.
Participants were scanned while they completed an emotion
anticipation task (Figure 1). Each trial started with a visual cue
that signaled the following picture would be positive (“a square”)
or neutral (“a circle”). The cue was presented for 2 s, followed
by a 4 s/6 s/8 s jittered inter-stimulus interval (ISI), and a 1 s
emotional image presentation. Then, participants were instructed
to make a response to indicate whether the cue was congruent
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FIGURE 1 | The fMRI experimental protocol. (A) The cue–picture pairings. The square signaled the following picture is positive, while the circle signaled that is
neutral. (B) Example trials. Participants viewed a visual cue for 2 s, followed by a 4 s/6 s/8 s ISI, and a 1 s emotional image presentation. Then, participants made a
congruent (incongruent) response depending on whether the cue was congruent with the valence of the picture. Lastly, another 3 s/5 s/7 s ISI were presented.
with the valence of the picture. If the cue and the valence of the
picture were congruent (incongruent), participants responded
with the number “1” (“2”) within 2-s. Participants were instructed
about all cue–picture pairings prior to scanning. Lastly, another
3 s/5 s/7 s ISI were presented. Most of the cue–picture pairings
were congruent, but we added two filler trials in each run (each
condition has one, total eight trials), in which the cue and the
valence of the images were incongruent, to keep the participants’
attention on the task. The filler trials were dropped due to their
infrequency. There were 26 trials (12 positive, 12 neutral, and 2
filler trials presented in a pseudorandom order) in each of four
functional runs lasting 6 min and 56 s. The total time of the
experiment was about half an hour.
Following the scan, participants’ perceived well-being was
assessed with 48-item Chinese Happiness Inventory (CHI) (Lu
and Shih, 1997), composed of positive affect, negative affect, and
life satisfaction. The CHI is composed of 20 “eastern” items
deriving from Chinese culture and 28 “western” items from the
Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (Argyle et al., 1989). It is a
reliable measure of well-being in Chinese culture (e.g., Luo et al.,
2014). Each item was presented in four incremental levels from
unhappy to happy, numbered from 0 to 3. For example: I do not
feel interested in being with family members (0); I seldom feel
interested in being with family members (1); I often feel interested
in being with family members (2); I always feel interested in being
with family members (3). The higher score indicated a higher
level of overall well-being. In our sample, a good reliability was
observed (Cronbach’s α=0.95).
fMRI Data Acquisition
All images were collected on a 3.0-T scanner (Magnetom Trio,
Siemens, Erlangen, Germany). Functional images were acquired
using a single-shot, gradient-recalled echo planar imaging
sequence (TR =2000 ms, TE =30 ms, flip angle =90,
32 axial slices, FOV =192 cm ×192 cm, acquisition
matrix =64 ×64, slice thickness =3 mm, without gap, voxel
size =3 mm ×3 mm ×4 mm). To minimize head motion,
participants’ head were restricted with foam cushions. High-
resolution T1-weighted anatomical images were also acquired
in sagittal orientation using a 3D magnetization prepared rapid
gradient-echo (MPRAGE) sequence (176 slices, TR =1900 ms,
TE =2.53 ms, flip angle =9, resolution =256 ×256, and voxel
size =1mm×1mm×1 mm) on each participant.
fMRI Data Analysis
Data analysis was performed using FSL (FMRIB’s Software
Library1) (Jenkinson et al., 2002;Smith et al., 2004). Pre-statistics
processing consisted of motion correction using MCFLIRT
(Jenkinson et al., 2002), slice-timing correction, non-brain
removal using Brain Extraction Tool (BET; Smith, 2002),
spatial smoothing (5 mm full-width at half maximum Gaussian
kernel), and high-pass temporal filtering (Gaussian-weighted
least-squares straight line fitting, with σ=30.0 s).
For group analysis, we used the three-level approach in FEAT
(FMRI Expert Analysis Tool, version 6.00), part of FSL. Firstly,
a fixed-effects analysis modeled event-related responses for each
run was computed, with the four explanatory variables (i.e.,
positive anticipation, neutral anticipation, positive perception,
and neutral perception), and the six motion estimates as
covariates of no-interest. The first two variables (i.e., positive
anticipation and neutral anticipation) modeled the anticipation
phase (cues onset to offset, 2 s duration, one regressor for
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Luo et al. Well-being and Positive Anticipation
positive cues, one regressor for neutral cues). Another two
regressors (i.e., positive perception, neutral perception) modeled
the perception phase (emotional images onset to offset, 1 s
duration, one regressor for positive images, one regressor
for neutral images). Each explanatory variable was convolved
with a double gamma hemodynamic response function with a
temporal derivative. According to our aim of this study, one
contrast of interest was defined (positive anticipation >neutral
anticipation). Functional volumes and first-level contrast images
from this analysis were registered to corresponding structural
volumes using boundary-based registration (BBR; Greve and
Fischl, 2009), and then spatially registered to the standard space
[Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI)] using 12 degrees of
freedom with FMRIB’s Linear Image Registration Tool (FLIRT;
Jenkinson et al., 2002).
A second-level analysis was performed combining the
parameter estimates of the four runs for each participant, treating
runs as a fixed effect. Then, these were inputs into the group
level and a mixed-effects analysis was used to create group
average maps for contrasts of interest. The Zstatistical parametric
maps were corrected for multiple comparisons using clusters
determined by Z>2.3 and a cluster significance of p=0.05,
based on Gaussian Random Field (GRF) theory (Worsley,
We conducted PPI analysis to examine whether functional
connectivity between amygdala and prefrontal cortex was
modulated by positive anticipation. MPFC, left and right
amygdala were used as seeds in this analysis, respectively. MPFC
were defined with a 6-mm radius sphere around the group
peak activation voxel identified in the whole-brain analysis, and
amygdala was defined with the Harvard–Oxford cortical atlas2,
with the probability threshold set to 25%. The seeds were first
transformed into functional space of each individual, and the
time-series were extracted using individual mask. The first-
level model included 11 regressors: psychological, physiological,
PPI, two regressors in the perception phase, and six motion
parameters. Positive and neutral trial durations comprised
the psychological regressor, modeled with values 1 and 1,
respectively, and convolved with double-gamma hemodynamic
response function. The physiological regressor comprised the
time-series for MPFC, the left or right amygdala, respectively.
The PPI regressor modeled the interaction of the psychological
regressor and the physiological regressor. Two regressors in
the perception phase included positive perception and neutral
perception. Group-level analysis was conducted using the same
approach as the whole-brain analysis indicated above.
Brain–Behavior Relationship
To assess whether neural regions involving in anticipation for
positive events were correlated with well-being, we further
extracted the percent signal change values from the significant
cluster for positive >neutral contrast as outlined by Mumford
(2007), and estimated a linear regression, with the percent signal
changes values as a predictor, and the individual CHI score as a
dependent variable.
Behavioral Data
If the cue–picture pairings in the emotion anticipation task were
congruent and participants were responded with the number “1”
within 2 s, this trial was defined as “correct,” and vice versa.
Paired t-tests were conducted on accuracy yielded no significant
differences between the positive condition (M=0.97, SD =0.03)
and neutral condition (M=0.98, SD =0.03) (t= −1.69, df =39,
p>0.05), due to the simplicity of the task. Moreover, paired
t-tests were conducted on reaction times (RTs) showed that
the RTs for the positive condition (M=512, SD =131) were
faster than that for the neutral condition (M=579, SD =146)
(t= −5.90, df =39, p<0.001).
Anticipation Activity for the Comparison
of Positive to Neutral Condition
Whole-brain, cluster wise analysis for the contrast of the
positive >neutral condition revealed that anticipating the
positive stimuli relative to that for the neutral stimuli activated
bilateral MPFC (peak MNI coordinates, 8, 60, 12; Z-score =4.51;
number of voxels =1437, p<0.001, GRF corrected)
(Figures 2A,B).
The results of PPI analyses indicated MPFC (peak MNI
coordinates, 10, 64, 10; Z-score =3.33; number of voxels =515,
p<0.001, GRF corrected) were activated in positive >neutral
contrast. However, there aren’t brain areas that were functionally
coupled with MPFC, left or right amygdala during positive than
neutral condition, respectively.
Brain–Behavior Relationship
The whole-brain analysis revealed that the MPFC were activated
for positive anticipation relative to neutral anticipation. Thus,
positive–neutral percent signal change values were extracted
from the bilateral MPFC. And we then tested the relationship
between the percent signal change of the MPFC on CHI by
estimating a linear regression. The result showed that revealed the
effects of percent signal change of the MPFC on CHI significant
[β=0.33, t(38) =2.12, p<0.05, R2=0.11] (Figure 2C).
The present study investigated how brain activities during
anticipation for positive events were associated with individual
difference of well-being. Participants performed an emotion
anticipation task in which they were required to anticipate the
positive events or neutral events and then made judgments
whether the cue and the following affective stimuli was congruent
or not. It was found that people made faster judgments in the
positive condition than that in the neutral condition, which may
indicate people’s greater motivation to positive stimuli relative
to neutral stimuli. More importantly, the bilateral MPFC were
activated in response to the positive cues relative to neutral cues,
and the MPFC activations were positively correlated with people’s
perceived well-being.
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FIGURE 2 | Correlation between well-being and MPFC activation for positive anticipation >neutral anticipation (thresholded at z>2.3, p= 0.05, whole-brain
corrected). (A) Bilateral MPFC (peak coordinates: X=8,Y= 60, Z= 12) activation responding to positive anticipation >neutral anticipation. Numbers in the upper
left corner of each image refer to the x-plane, y-plane, or z-plane coordinates of the MNI space (R, right and L, left). (B) Percent changes of MPFC in positive and
neutral condition. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. (C) Correlations between scores on the CHI and percent signal change values of the MPFC.
We found that the bilateral MPFC were involved in
anticipating the positive stimuli relative to the neutral stimuli.
MPFC is highly implicated in a variety of cognitions, not only
self-referential processing (Gusnard et al., 2001;Northoff et al.,
2006) and mentalizing (Amodio and Frith, 2006), but also
the emotion and reward processing (Ochsner and Gross, 2005;
Kringelbach and Berridge, 2009;Etkin et al., 2011). In particular,
MPFC is not only involved in emotional perception (Costa et al.,
2010), but also in emotional anticipation (Sharot et al., 2007;
Bermpohl et al., 2008;D’Argembeau et al., 2010). Specifically,
D’Argembeau et al. (2010) found anticipating personal future
goals elicited stronger activation in MPFC relative to non-
personal future events. Therefore, our results were consistent
with previous studies. Taken together, we speculated that the
activation of MPFC might represent the anticipatory pleasures
during expecting the future positive events.
More interestingly, we found that the MPFC activation during
anticipating the positive events were positively correlated with
individual difference of well-being. The results are consistent
with previous neural evidence, which found the cues signaling
emotional events activated MPFC and the activations were
positively correlated with novelty-seeking (Bermpohl et al.,
2008), a personality trait characterized by seeking new and
potential pleasures (Kashdan and Steger, 2007). Previous work
focuses on the neural circuitry underlying hedonic enjoyment
of consumption of positive stimuli associating with well-being
(e.g., Epstein et al., 2006;van Reekum et al., 2007;Heller et al.,
2013;Cunningham and Kirkland, 2014). However, except the
emotional perception, our study found neural activation during
emotional anticipation was related to people’s well-being. The
findings extended past work by providing a dynamic, future-
oriented view on the well-being.
Furthermore, our results were consistent with the goal theory
of well-being (Carver and Scheier, 1990;Diener et al., 1999).
This framework proposed that having and progressing goals
confer benefits to well-being (Carver and Scheier, 1990;Diener
et al., 1999). The benefits to well-being are not only from
goal achievement, but also from the strong positive anticipation
element in goal progress (MacLeod and Conway, 2005). Goals
and goal progress is possible to enhance people’s well-being
through positive anticipation (MacLeod and Conway, 2005). The
results were consistent with our previous resting state work,
which indicated the happy people relative to their unhappy
peers showed increased local functional connectivity within
MPFC (Luo et al., 2014). Combining the resting and task-based
neuroimaging results, we speculated that people with higher level
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Luo et al. Well-being and Positive Anticipation
of well-being may derive more pleasure from anticipating future
positive events, which may relative to the desirable goals. In this
regard, our results may provide the neural evidence for the goal
theory of well-being.
Anticipation for future is a process of emotion regulation
(Erk et al., 2006;Grupe et al., 2013). Thus, the neuroimaging
results can also be interpreted from the perspective of emotion
regulation. Anticipating the future allows allocating cognitive and
emotional resources and planning behavior strategies to cope
the upcoming events (Erk et al., 2006;Grupe et al., 2013). For
example, anticipating positive events can induce positive emotion
to cope the social stress (e.g., Monfort et al., 2015). Previous
findings suggest that MPFC and ACC are highly implicated in
emotion regulation (Phillips et al., 2008;Etkin et al., 2015).
Specifically, MPFC and ACC are thought to be part of model-
free emotion regulation system, in which MPFC and ACC
encoding the experience-dependent value of regulatory actions,
which modulate activity in emotional-reactivity regions, such
as the amygdala, insula, dorsal ACC, and periaqueductal gray
(Etkin et al., 2015). The MPFC activation during the anticipating
future positive events in our study may indicate people felt more
positive emotion when anticipating positive future, which in turn
enhanced people’s well-being. In this perspective, our results were
consistent with Etkin et al.’s (2015) framework.
However, we did not observe the functional connectivity
between MPFC and other emotion-related areas, such as the
amygdala. Also, we did not observe amygdala activation during
positive anticipation relative to neutral anticipation. Our results
were inconsistent with prior studies which show that amygdala is
highly involved in emotional perception (e.g., Sergerie et al., 2008;
Cunningham and Kirkland, 2014) and has different coupling
pattern with other areas during different tasks of emotion
processing (Lee et al., 2012;Diano et al., 2016, 2017;Di et al.,
2017). Reviewing the literature of neural correlates of emotion
anticipation, we found amygdala was consistently activated
during anticipation of aversive events, such as negative picture
(e.g., Ueda et al., 2003;Erk et al., 2006;Nitschke et al., 2006)
and pain (e.g., Wager et al., 2004), but there is little evidence
that amygdala was involved in positive anticipation (e.g., Ueda
et al., 2003;Scherpiet et al., 2014). One reason that the lack
of significant results in the amygdala in our study could be
that amygdala was more involved in negative anticipation, but
the task we employed didn’t include anticipation of negative
events. Our results might indicate that amygdala was involved in
perception phase of positive emotion events (e.g., Cunningham
and Kirkland, 2014), but it didn’t be involved in the anticipation
phase. However, the role of amygdala in the emotion anticipation
needs further investigation.
Although we provide evidence that MPFC activation during
positive anticipation can predict the levels of well-being, several
limits and future directions of this study need to be considered.
Firstly, the cross-section design hinders the conclusion of the
causal relationships between the brain activity and well-being. It
will be of merit for future work using neuroimaging modulation
technique, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to alter
brain activity and find the causal relationship. Secondly, we
did not find the amygdala activation in positive anticipation,
but the previous study found amygdala was activated when
positive stimuli were presented (Cunningham and Kirkland,
2014). This may indicate the distinct brain regions involved in
emotional perception and anticipation. Nevertheless, whether
the amygdala is activated in positive anticipation needs further
investigation. Thirdly, we speculated the psychological processes
during anticipation in this study. However, future studies may
be beneficial to collect the online self-report of the motivation
to the hedonic cue when people were anticipating. Fourthly,
the contents of pictures used in positive and neutral condition
weren’t rigidly matched in the current study. Although we tried
to select pictures depicted people’s activities in both conditions,
the content of the stimuli in both conditions were not rigidly
matched. The content difference of the pictures between positive
and neutral condition may confound the neural activation
results. For example, amygdala may respond to human faces
or bodies (Van den Stock et al., 2014;Wang et al., 2014) but
not to household appliances. However, this may not a fatal
factor that confounded our results, because we are interest in
the anticipation phase of emotion instead of the perception
phase. We rigidly matched the physical properties of the cues
between two conditions. But the contents of pictures from both
conditions should be rigidly matched in future studies. Lastly,
our study did not include the anticipation for negative events
to control for potentially confounding factors. However, given
the negative psychopathological consequences resulting from
exaggerated negative anticipation (Grupe and Nitschke, 2013;
Heitmann et al., 2014), future studies examining the association
between well-being and neural underpinning of anticipation to
the negative emotion may be interesting.
In this study, we used emotional anticipation task to investigate
how the neural underpinning during anticipating to future
positive events was associated with individual difference of well-
being. The results showed that bilateral MPFC was activated
during anticipation for positive events relative to neutral events,
and MPFC activities were positively correlated the levels of well-
being. The findings may be consistent with the goal theory of
well-being and provide the dynamic, future-oriented view on
YL and XH conceived and designed the experiments. YL
performed the experiments. YL and XC analyzed the data. YL,
XC, SQ, XY, and XH wrote the paper. All authors contributed to
and have approved the final manuscript.
This work was supported by the National Natural
Science Foundation of China (grant number 31600913);
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Luo et al. Well-being and Positive Anticipation
the Youth foundation for Humanities and Social Science
Research of Ministry of Education (grant number 15XJC190001);
China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant numbers
2016M590918 and 2017T100724); Shaanxi Postdoctoral Science
Foundation (grant number 2016BSHTDZZ10); Young Talent
Fund of University Association for Science and Technology
in Shaanxi, China (grant number 20160210); the Ministry
of Education (MOE) of China, Key Project of Philosophy
and Social Science (grant number 11JZD044); and the
Research Team’s Construction Project from the Faculty of
Psychology in Southwest University (2012) (grant number
The authors wish to thank the two reviewers who provided
helpful comments on a previous version of this article. The
authors also would like to thank all the participants who took part
in the project.
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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
The reviewer MD and handling Editor declared their shared affiliation.
Copyright © 2018 Luo, Chen, Qi, You and Huang. This is an open-access article
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original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this
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Frontiers in Psychology | 8January 2018 | Volume 8 | Article 2199
... This is one beneficial aspect of a virtual event that is not defined by being held in a specific location. Recent studies have shown that anticipation has a positive effect on mental health [15]. In an isolated environment the anticipation of further sport activities and interaction with others could contribute to well-being amongst the participants. ...
... So, the completeness and reliability of information, the professionalism of the staff affects both the objective quality of the services provided by the tour, and its subjective aspect -the perception of quality. The public's interest in this subject is the proposal of the public council of Russian Tourism to create a draft national standard for the quality of tourist services [15]. Until recently, questions about how to create a friendly environment for tourists from countries and regions with different religious and cultural characteristics have not been raised. ...
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... The learning system works in anticipation. The more experienced the individuals, the more accurate their anticipation is (Luo et al., 2018). ...
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Th e article deals with the issue of ability to anticipate future events in preschool children with visual impairments. Th e relevance of the study is due to the fact that the development of the prognostic ability in older preschool age makes it an important condition for the process of socio-psychological adaptation of children with disabilities, including preschoolers with impaired vision. Th e aim of the study was to revial the specifi cs of future events anticipation in visually impaired preschool children. Th e study involved 60 preschoolers aged 5 to 7 years, including 30 children with visual impairments and 30 children with unimpaired vision. As a result of the analysis of structural and functional components, it was found that visually impaired preschoolers predict actions more oft en, and they also have a lower level of the speech-communicative function as compared to the one in their normo-typical peers. In children with visual impairments, the ability to anticipate manifests itself more successfully in organized activities, as well as in their relationships with parents, rather than with surrounding adults or children. Th e study revealed the specifi cs of the ability to anticipate future situations in visually impaired preschoolers with speech impairments. It was found that children of this nosology experience real diffi culties in forming a prognosis, since visually impaired preschoolers have a lower level of development in regulatory, cognitive and speech-communicative functions compared to the one of their peers without visual impairments. Preschoolers with visual impairments can set and hold goals, as well as cope with the mental replay of various options for actions and are aware of the consequences of their implementation in relation to themselves and people around them. However, they have diffi culties in understanding and defi ning both their own emotions and the emotions of people around them in predictable situations.
To investigate the mechanism of episodic foresight of different valences on intertemporal decision-making, this study examined the mediating role of future self-continuity in the influence of episodic foresight on intertemporal decision-making and the moderating role of perceived control in two experiments. The results found that (1) future self-continuity mediated the effect of episodic foresight on individuals' intertemporal decision-making; and (2) perceived control moderated the indirect effect of episodic foresight on intertemporal decision-making through future self-continuity. Under low perceived control, individuals with positive episodic foresight had stronger future self-continuity and preferred future options, while individuals with negative episodic foresight had lower future self-continuity. In contrast, under high perceived control, individuals with different episodic foresight potencies did not show significant differences in their future self-continuity levels, but all showed higher levels and tended to choose the delayed option when faced with an intertemporal choice. From the perspective of the self-cognition, this study provided new insights into the relationship between episodic foresight and intertemporal decision-making and the psychological mechanisms of intertemporal decision-making.
Introduction: Perceptions towards the working and learning environment as well as coping mechanisms have been studied across different healthcare sectors. They have shown to reduce stress and burnout. However, perceptions of the work environment in the Emergency Department (ED) setting have not been studied in depth. The literature surrounding coping mechanisms also mostly focuses on their impacts rather than the mechanisms utilised. In addition, these were often investigated using surveys. This study aimed to use a phenomenological approach to explore the perceptions and coping strategies of junior doctors working in a paediatric ED. Methods: Sixteen junior doctors working in the Paediatric ED were recruited. Semi-structured interviews were conducted after conducting literature reviews. Data was collected until saturation point. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim manually and subsequently analysed. Results: The greatest fears of junior doctors starting their paediatric emergency posting were lack of knowledge due to inexperience in the subspecialty; fear of the work environment due to unfamiliarity as well as workload and the intrinsic high-stress environment. The main coping strategies were ensuring clinical safety, obtaining psychosocial support from loved ones and colleagues, and placing focus on spirituality and wellbeing. Conclusion: In this study, the perceptions and coping strategies of the junior doctors in the Paediatric ED were explored. The findings from this study will help to structure and improve the support given to future junior doctors who rotate to the department as well as better orientate them to allay their pre-conceived notions.
Epigenetics triggers genetic processes in the living. Anticipatory processes pertain to the entirety of life. Understanding their relation is a prerequisite for approaching spiritual aspects of individual and social life. Epigenetic processes associated with non-material promoters are part of the encompassing anticipatory action through which life is preserved. Ideas can be as influential as substances (food, natural poisons, synthetic interventions such as pharmaceuticals or genetic engineering). Empirical evidence of anticipatory expression suggests that epigenetic processes are, by necessity, grounded in the anticipatory nature of life. Based on these considerations, we advance here the hypothesis that what explains the role of religion is the human drive to know.KeywordsAnticipationEpigeneticsGenomeReligionSpirituality
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The quest to characterize the neural signature distinctive of different basic emotions has recently come under renewed scrutiny. Here we investigated whether facial expressions of different basic emotions modulate the functional connectivity of the amygdala with the rest of the brain. To this end, we presented seventeen healthy participants (8 females) with facial expressions of anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and emotional neutrality and analyzed amygdala?s psychophysiological interaction (PPI). In fact, PPI can reveal how inter-regional amygdala communications change dynamically depending on perception of various emotional expressions to recruit different brain networks, compared to the functional interactions it entertains during perception of neutral expressions. We found that for each emotion the amygdala recruited a distinctive and spatially distributed set of structures to interact with. These changes in amygdala connectional patters characterize the dynamic signature prototypical of individual emotion processing, and seemingly represent a neural mechanism that serves to implement the distinctive influence that each emotion exerts on perceptual, cognitive, and motor responses. Besides these differences, all emotions enhanced amygdala functional integration with premotor cortices compared to neutral faces. The present findings thus concur to reconceptualise the structure-function relation between brain-emotion from the traditional one-to-one mapping toward a network-based and dynamic perspective.
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Over the past two decades, evidence has accumulated that the human amygdala exerts some of its functions also when the observer is not aware of the content, or even presence, of the triggering emotional stimulus. Nevertheless, there is as of yet no consensus on the limits and conditions that affect the extent of amygdala’s response without focused attention or awareness. Here we review past and recent studies on this subject, examining neuroimaging literature on healthy participants as well as brain-damaged patients, and we comment on their strengths and limits. We propose a theoretical distinction between processes involved in attentional unawareness, wherein the stimulus is potentially accessible to enter visual awareness but fails to do so because attention is diverted, and in sensory unawareness, wherein the stimulus fails to enter awareness because its normal processing in the visual cortex is suppressed. We argue this distinction, along with data sampling amygdala responses with high temporal resolution, helps to appreciate the multiplicity of functional and anatomical mechanisms centered on the amygdala and supporting its role in non-conscious emotion processing. Separate, but interacting, networks relay visual information to the amygdala exploiting different computational properties of subcortical and cortical routes, thereby supporting amygdala functions at different stages of emotion processing. This view reconciles some apparent contradictions in the literature, as well as seemingly contrasting proposals, such as the dual stage and the dual route model. We conclude that evidence in favor of the amygdala response without awareness is solid, albeit this response originates from different functional mechanisms and is driven by more complex neural networks than commonly assumed. Acknowledging the complexity of such mechanisms can foster new insights on the varieties of amygdala functions without awareness and their impact on human behavior.
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Understanding functional connectivity of the amygdala with other brain regions, especially task modulated connectivity, is a critical step toward understanding the role of the amygdala in emotional processes and the interactions between emotion and cognition. The present study performed coordinate-based meta-analysis on studies of task modulated connectivity of the amygdala which used psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis. We first analyzed 49 PPI studies on different types of tasks using activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis. Widespread cortical and subcortical regions showed consistent task modulated connectivity with the amygdala, including the medial frontal cortex, bilateral insula, anterior cingulate, fusiform gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus, and basal ganglia. These regions were in general overlapped with those showed coactivations with the amygdala, suggesting that these regions and amygdala are not only activated together, but also show different levels of interactions during tasks. Further analyses with subsets of PPI studies revealed task specific functional connectivities with the amygdala that were modulated by fear processing, face processing, and emotion regulation. These results suggest a dynamic modulation of connectivity upon task demands, and provide new insights on the functions of the amygdala in different affective and cognitive processes. The meta-analytic approach on PPI studies may offer a framework toward systematical examinations of task modulated connectivity.
Emotions are powerful determinants of behaviour, thought and experience, and they may be regulated in various ways. Neuroimaging studies have implicated several brain regions in emotion regulation, including the ventral anterior cingulate and ventromedial prefrontal cortices, as well as the lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices. Drawing on computational approaches to value-based decision-making and reinforcement learning, we propose a unifying conceptual framework for understanding the neural bases of diverse forms of emotion regulation.
The question of how affect arises and what affect indicates is examined from a feedback-based viewpoint on self-regulation. Using the analogy of action control as the attempt to diminish distance to a goal, a second feedback system is postulated that senses and regulates the rate at which the action-guiding system is functioning. This second system is seen as responsible for affect. Implications of these assertions and issues that arise from them are addressed in the remainder of the article. Several issues relate to the emotion model itself; others concern the relation between negative emotion and disengagement from goals. Relations to 3 other emotion theories are also addressed. The authors conclude that this view on affect is a useful supplement to other theories and that the concept of emotion is easily assimilated to feedback models of self-regulation.
Inspired by the elaborated intrusion theory of desire, the current research tested the hypothesis that persons higher in trait approach motivation process positive stimuli deeply, which enhances memory for them. Ninety-four undergraduates completed a measure of trait approach motivation, viewed positive or negative image slideshows in the presence or absence of a cognitive load, and one week later completed an image memory test. Higher trait approach motivation predicted better memory for the positive slideshow, but this memory boost disappeared under cognitive load. Approach motivation did not influence memory for the negative slideshow. The current findings support the idea that individuals higher in approach motivation spontaneously devote limited resources to processing positive stimuli.
The few studies examining the impact of positive emotions on discrete stressors suggest that positive emotions improve stress responding. We hypothesized that merely anticipating a positive event would be sufficient to harness these benefits. In Study 1, we found that the anticipation of funny (relative to unfunny) cartoons increased positive emotions immediately following the offset of a social stressor. In Study 2, we found that the post-stress mood elevation was greater when anticipating a positive event than when having experienced the same positive event prior to the stressor, but that both positive emotion groups reported more adaptive thoughts during the stressor itself compared to participants receiving a neutral emotion induction. In Study 3, we found that this boost in post-stress positive emotion predicts decreases in concurrent negative emotion. In sum, these findings suggest that anticipating a positive event is uniquely able to induce positive emotions both during and after stress, and that this boost subserves improved coping and recovery.