Article

Resolving Emotional Conflict: A Role for the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Modulating Activity in the Amygdala

Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University Medical Center, Neurological Institute Box 108, 710 West 168th Street, New York, New York 10032, USA.
Neuron (Impact Factor: 15.05). 10/2006; 51(6):871-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.07.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Effective mental functioning requires that cognition be protected from emotional conflict due to interference by task-irrelevant emotionally salient stimuli. The neural mechanisms by which the brain detects and resolves emotional conflict are still largely unknown, however. Drawing on the classic Stroop conflict task, we developed a protocol that allowed us to dissociate the generation and monitoring of emotional conflict from its resolution. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we find that activity in the amygdala and dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices reflects the amount of emotional conflict. By contrast, the resolution of emotional conflict is associated with activation of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Activation of the rostral cingulate is predicted by the amount of previous-trial conflict-related neural activity and is accompanied by a simultaneous and correlated reduction of amygdalar activity. These data suggest that emotional conflict is resolved through top-down inhibition of amygdalar activity by the rostral cingulate cortex.

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    • "The proposition that increased attentional control (via WM training) can impact positively on anxiety symptoms is consistent with a broader literature that has highlighted the role of the PFC in emotional regulation (e.g., Davidson et al., 2000). It also links to related studies that have found a negative association between PFC activation with brain regions linked to fearful responding, including the amygdala (Etkin et al., 2006; Hare et al., 2008). For example, research has demonstrated that adults who report elevated anxiety show reduced ability to utilize attentional processes associated with the PFC (including the Anterior Cingulate Cortex and the lateral PFC) and where this pattern of activation is argued to maintain threat biases in anxiety (Öhman, 2005; reviews by Bishop, 2007). "
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    Preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    • "Another area that has been implicated is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which has been associated with emotion-cognition integration. The dorsal ACC (midportion) is engaged mainly in cognitive conflict resolution, while more rostral ACC has a role in emotional conflict resolution333435. There is evidence that performing an attentional task while being exposed to an emotional signal engages rostral ACC, superior parietal areas, and the lateral prefrontal cortex363738. "
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    • "For instance, drawing on executive control frameworks that distinguish between the detection and the resolution of competing stimulus representations, action tendencies, or response rules (Botvinick, Braver, Barch, Carter, & Cohen, 2001), some recent work suggests that conflict resolution processes are modular and distinct for emotional and nonemotional sources of conflict (Egner, 2008). Evidence from neuroimaging investigations (Egner et al., 2008; Etkin et al., 2006), research involving lesion patients (Maier & di Pellegrino, 2012), and behavioral investigations (Kunde, Augst, & Kleinsorge, 2012; Soutschek & Schubert, 2013) support this potential modularity. "
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