Amygdala response and functional connectivity
during cognitive emotion
regulation of aversive image sequences
Emotion regulation (ER) is crucial in terms of mental health and social functioning.
Attention deployment (AD) and cognitive reappraisal (CR) are both efficient cognitive ER strategies,
which are based on partially dissociated neural effects.
Our understanding of the neural underpinnings of ER is based on laboratory paradigms that study changes of the brain activation related to isolated emotional stimuli.
To track the neural response to ER in the changing and dynamic environment of daily life,
we extended the common existing paradigms by applying a sequence of emotionally
provocative stimuli involving three aversive images. Eighteen participants completed an ER paradigm,
in which they had to either shift their attention away from the emotionally negative
images by counting backwards (AD strategy) or reinterpret the meaning of stimuli
(CR strategy) to attain a down-regulation of affective responses.
An increased recruitment of left-sided lateral and medial PFC was shown upon
regulation of negative emotions with CR as compared to AD. Remarkably,
the amygdala activation showed an increasing pattern of activation during CR.
The inverse relationship between PFC and amygdala was compromised during elongated blocks of reappraisal,
reflecting a reduction in engagement of the top-down prefrontal regulatory
circuitry upon repeated exposure to negative stimuli. These results highlight that
temporal dynamic of amygdala response and its functional connectivity differentiates
AD and CR strategies in regulating emotions. Findings of the current study underscore
the importance of adopting temporally variant approaches for investigating the neural
effects of ER. Identifying neural systems that subserve down-regulation of negative
emotions is of importance in developing treatment strategies for various forms of psychopathology.
Emotion regulation Cognitive reappraisal Attention deployment Amygdala Functional connectivity