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The role of the medial frontal cortex in the maintenance of emotional states

Waugh, Christian E.

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Evidence is accruing that people can maintain their emotional states, but how they do it and which brain regions are responsible still remains unclear. We examined whether people maintain emotional states ‘actively’, with explicit elaboration of the emotion, or ‘passively’, without elaboration. Twenty-four participants completed an emotion maintenance task in which they either maintained the emotional intensity from the first picture of a pair to compare to that of the second picture (‘maintain’ condition), or only rated their emotional response to the second picture (‘non-maintain’ condition). Supporting the ‘active’ maintenance hypothesis, when maintaining vs not maintaining emotion, participants exhibited increased height and width of activation in the dorsal medial frontal cortex (MFC) and lateral prefrontal cortex, regions associated with explicit emotion generation and manipulation of contents in working memory, respectively. Supporting the ‘passive’ maintenance hypothesis, however, when viewing negative emotional pictures (vs neutral pictures) that were not explicitly maintained, participants exhibited greater duration of activity in the rostral MFC, a region associated with implicit emotion generation. Supported by behavioral findings, this evidence that people maintain emotional states both naturally in the rMFC and strategically in the dMFC may be critical for understanding normal as well as disordered emotion regulation.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Health awarded to Ian Gotlib (MH59259). (sponsorship)
working memory
medial frontal cortex
affect maintenance
emotion regulation
12 (issue)
9 (volume)
Waugh, Christian E. (author)
Lemus, Maria G. (author)
Gotlib, Ian H. (author)
2015-10-09T15:13:32Z (accessioned)
2015-10-09T15:13:32Z (available)
2014 (issued)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu011 (doi)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/57353 (uri)
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
The role of the medial frontal cortex in the maintenance of emotional states

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