Neurobiological correlates of coping through emotional approach.

TitleNeurobiological correlates of coping through emotional approach.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMaster SL, Amodio DM, Stanton AL, Yee CM, Hilmert CJ, Taylor SE
JournalBrain Behav Immun
Date Published2009 Jan
KeywordsAdolescent, Brain Mapping, Depression, Electroencephalography, Emotions, Female, Frontal Lobe, Functional Laterality, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Interleukin-6, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Radioimmunoassay, Saliva, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires, Task Performance and Analysis, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Young Adult

This investigation considered possible health-related neurobiological processes associated with "emotional approach coping" (EAC), or intentional efforts to identify, process, and express emotions surrounding stressors. It was hypothesized that higher dispositional use of EAC strategies would be related to neural activity indicative of greater trait approach motivational orientation and to lower proinflammatory cytokine and cortisol responses to stress. To assess these relationships, 46 healthy participants completed a questionnaire assessing the two components of EAC (i.e., emotional processing and emotional expression), and their resting frontal cortical asymmetry was measured using electroencephalography (EEG). A subset (N=22) of these participants' levels of the soluble receptor for tumor necrosis factor-alpha (sTNFalphaRII), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and cortisol (all obtained from oral fluids) were also assessed before and after exposure to an acute laboratory stressor. Consistent with predictions, higher reported levels of emotional expression were significantly associated with greater relative left-sided frontal EEG asymmetry, indicative of greater trait approach motivation. Additionally, people who scored higher on EAC, particularly the emotional processing component, tended to show a less-pronounced TNF-alpha stress response. EAC was unrelated to levels of IL-6 and cortisol. Greater left-sided frontal EEG asymmetry was significantly related to lower baseline levels of IL-6 and to lower stress-related levels of sTNFalphaRII, and was marginally related to lower stress-related levels of IL-6. The findings suggest that the salubrious effects of EAC strategies for managing stress may be linked to an approach-oriented neurocognitive profile and to well-regulated proinflammatory cytokine responses to stress.

Alternate JournalBrain Behav. Immun.
PubMed ID18558470
PubMed Central IDPMC2665042
Grant ListR01 AG030309 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG030309-03 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States