Overlapping neural substrates between intentional and incidental down-regulation of negative emotions.

TitleOverlapping neural substrates between intentional and incidental down-regulation of negative emotions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPayer, DE, Baicy K, Lieberman MD, London ED
JournalEmotion (Washington, D.C.)
Date Published2012 Apr

Emotion regulation can be achieved in various ways, but few studies have evaluated the extent to which the neurocognitive substrates of these distinct operations overlap. In the study reported here, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure activity in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex of 10 participants who completed two independent tasks of emotion regulation-reappraisal, measuring intentional emotion regulation, and affect labeling, measuring incidental emotion regulation-with the objective of identifying potential overlap in the neural substrates underlying each task. Analyses focused on a priori regions of interest in the amygdala and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). For both tasks, fMRI showed decreased amygdala activation during emotion regulation compared with emotion conditions. During reappraisal, this decrease in amygdala activation was accompanied by a proportional decrease in emotional intensity ratings; during affect labeling, the decrease in amygdala activation correlated with self-reported aggression. Importantly, across participants, the magnitude of decrease in amygdala activation during reappraisal correlated with the magnitude of decrease during affect labeling, even though the tasks were administered on separate days, and values indexing amygdala activation during each task were extracted independently of one another. In addition, IFG-amygdala connectivity, assessed via psychophysiological interaction analysis, overlapped between tasks in two regions within the right IFG. The results suggest that the two tasks recruit overlapping regions of prefrontal cortex, resulting in similar reductions in amygdala activation, regardless of the strategy employed. Intentional and incidental forms of emotion regulation, despite their phenomenological differences, may therefore converge on a common neurocognitive pathway.

Alternate JournalEmotion