Feeling bad about screwing up: emotion regulation and action monitoring in the anterior cingulate cortex.
ABSTRACT: This study examined neural features of emotional responses to errors. We specifically examined whether directed emotion regulation of negative emotion associated with error modulates action-monitoring functions of anterior cingulate cortex, including conflict monitoring, error processing, and error prevention. Seventeen healthy adults performed a continuous performance task during assessment by fMRI. In each block, participants were asked either to increase or decrease their negative emotional responses or to react naturally after error commission. Emotion regulation instructions were associated with modulation of rostral and dorsal anterior activity and of their effective connectivity following errors and conflict. Cingulate activity and connectivity predicted subsequent errors. These data may suggest that responses to errors are affected by emotion and that aspects of emotion and cognition are inextricably linked, even during a nominally cognitive task.
Project description:The serotonin transporter polymorphism short (s) allele is associated with heightened emotional reactivity and reduced emotion regulation, which increases vulnerability to depression and anxiety disorders. We investigated behavioral and neural markers of emotion regulation in community-dwelling older adults, contrasting s allele carriers and long allele homozygotes.Participants (N = 26) completed a face-word emotion conflict task during functional magnetic resonance imaging, in which facilitated regulation of emotion conflict was observed on face-word incongruent trials following another incongruent trial (i.e., emotional conflict adaptation).There were no differences between genetic groups in behavioral task performance or neural activation in postincongruent versus postcongruent trials. By contrast, connectivity between dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and pregenual ACC, regions previously implicated in emotion conflict regulation, was impaired in s carriers for emotional conflict adaptation.This is the first demonstration of an association between serotonin transporter polymorphism and functional connectivity in older adults. Poor dorsal ACC-pregenual ACC connectivity in s carriers may be one route by which these individuals experience greater difficulty in implementing effective emotional regulation, which may contribute to their vulnerability for affective disorders.
Project description:Coherent behavior depends on attentional control that detects and resolves conflict between opposing actions. The current functional magnetic resonance imaging study tested the hypothesis that emotion triggers attentional control to speed up conflict processing in particularly salient situations. Therefore, we presented emotionally negative and neutral words in a version of the flanker task. In response to conflict, we found activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and of the amygdala for emotional stimuli. When emotion and conflict coincided, a region in the ventral ACC was activated, which resulted in faster conflict processing in reaction times. Emotion also increased functional connectivity between the ventral ACC and activation of the dorsal ACC and the amygdala in conflict trials. These data suggest that the ventral ACC integrates emotion and conflict and prioritizes the processing of conflict in emotional trials. This adaptive mechanism ensures rapid detection and resolution of conflict in potentially threatening situations signaled by emotional stimuli.
Project description:Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by maladaptive repetitive behaviors that persist despite feedback. Using multimodal neuroimaging, we tested the hypothesis that this behavioral rigidity reflects impaired use of behavioral outcomes (here, errors) to adaptively adjust responses. We measured both neural responses to errors and adjustments in the subsequent trial to determine whether abnormalities correlate with symptom severity. Since error processing depends on communication between the anterior and the posterior cingulate cortex, we also examined the integrity of the cingulum bundle with diffusion tensor imaging.Participants performed the same antisaccade task during functional MRI and electroencephalography sessions. We measured error-related activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the error-related negativity (ERN). We also examined post-error adjustments, indexed by changes in activation of the default network in trials surrounding errors.OCD patients showed intact error-related ACC activation and ERN, but abnormal adjustments in the post- vs. pre-error trial. Relative to controls, who responded to errors by deactivating the default network, OCD patients showed increased default network activation including in the rostral ACC (rACC). Greater rACC activation in the post-error trial correlated with more severe compulsions. Patients also showed increased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the white matter underlying rACC.Impaired use of behavioral outcomes to adaptively adjust neural responses may contribute to symptoms in OCD. The rACC locus of abnormal adjustment and relations with symptoms suggests difficulty suppressing emotional responses to aversive, unexpected events (e.g., errors). Increased structural connectivity of this paralimbic default network region may contribute to this impairment.
Project description:Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) show abnormal functioning in ventral frontal brain regions involved in emotional/motivational processes, including anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO) and ventromedial frontal cortex (VMPFC). While OCD has been associated with an increased neural response to errors, the influence of motivational factors on this effect remains poorly understood.To investigate the contribution of motivational factors to error processing in OCD and to examine functional connectivity between regions involved in the error response, functional magnetic resonance imaging data were measured in 39 OCD patients (20 unmedicated, 19 medicated) and 38 control subjects (20 unmedicated, 18 medicated) during an error-eliciting interference task where motivational context was varied using monetary incentives (null, loss, and gain).Across all errors, OCD patients showed reduced deactivation of VMPFC and greater activation in left aI/FO compared with control subjects. For errors specifically resulting in a loss, patients further hyperactivated VMPFC, as well as right aI/FO. Independent of activity associated with task events, OCD patients showed greater functional connectivity between VMPFC and regions of bilateral aI/FO and right thalamus.Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients show greater activation in neural regions associated with emotion and valuation when making errors, which could be related to altered intrinsic functional connectivity between brain networks. These results highlight the importance of emotional/motivational responses to mistakes in OCD and point to the need for further study of network interactions in the disorder.
Project description:Clinical data suggest that abnormalities in the regulation of emotional processing contribute to the pathophysiology of generalized anxiety disorder, yet these abnormalities remain poorly understood at the neurobiological level. The authors recently reported that in healthy volunteers the pregenual anterior cingulate regulates emotional conflict on a trial-by-trial basis by dampening activity in the amygdala. The authors also showed that this process is specific to the regulation of emotional, compared to nonemotional, conflict. Here the authors examined whether this form of noninstructed emotion regulation is perturbed in generalized anxiety disorder.Seventeen patients with generalized anxiety disorder and 24 healthy comparison subjects underwent functional MRI while performing an emotional conflict task that involved categorizing facial affect while ignoring overlaid affect label words. Behavioral and neural measures were used to compare trial-by-trial changes in conflict regulation.Comparison subjects effectively regulated emotional conflict from trial to trial, even though they were unaware of having done so. By contrast, patients with generalized anxiety disorder were completely unable to regulate emotional conflict and failed to engage the pregenual anterior cingulate in ways that would dampen amygdalar activity. Moreover, performance and brain activation were correlated with symptoms and could be used to accurately classify the two groups.These data demonstrate that patients with generalized anxiety disorder show significant deficits in the noninstructed and spontaneous regulation of emotional processing. Conceptualization of anxiety as importantly involving abnormalities in emotion regulation, particularly a type occurring outside of awareness, may open up avenues for novel treatments, such as by targeting the medial prefrontal cortex.
Project description:Emotional and economic incentives often conflict in decision environments. To make economically desirable decisions then, deliberative neural processes must be engaged to regulate automatic emotional reactions. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we evaluated how fixed wage (FW) incentives and performance-based (PB) financial incentives, in which pay is proportional to outcome, differentially regulate positive and negative emotional reactions to hypothetical colleagues that conflicted with the economics of available alternatives. Neural activity from FW to PB incentive contexts decreased for positive emotional stimuli but increased for negative stimuli in middle temporal, insula, and medial prefrontal regions. In addition, PB incentives further induced greater responses to negative than positive emotional decisions in the frontal and anterior cingulate regions involved in emotion regulation. Greater response to positive than negative emotional features in these regions also correlated with lower frequencies of economically desirable choices. Our findings suggest that whereas positive emotion regulation involves a reduction of responses in valence representation regions, negative emotion regulation additionally engages brain regions for deliberative processing and signaling of incongruous events.
Project description:The ability to voluntarily regulate our emotional response to threatening and highly arousing stimuli by using cognitive reappraisal strategies is essential for our mental and physical well-being. This might be achieved by prefrontal brain regions (e.g. inferior frontal gyrus, IFG) down-regulating activity in the amygdala. It is unknown, to which degree effective connectivity within the emotion-regulation network is linked to individual differences in reappraisal skills. Using psychophysiological interaction analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, we examined changes in inter-regional connectivity between the amygdala and IFG with other brain regions during reappraisal of emotional responses and used emotion regulation success as an explicit regressor. During down-regulation of emotion, reappraisal success correlated with effective connectivity between IFG with dorsolateral, dorsomedial and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC). During up-regulation of emotion, effective coupling between IFG with anterior cingulate cortex, dorsomedial and ventromedial PFC as well as the amygdala correlated with reappraisal success. Activity in the amygdala covaried with activity in lateral and medial prefrontal regions during the up-regulation of emotion and correlated with reappraisal success. These results suggest that successful reappraisal is linked to changes in effective connectivity between two systems, prefrontal cognitive control regions and regions crucially involved in emotional evaluation.
Project description:Experiences of adversity in the early years of life alter the developing brain. However, evidence documenting this relationship often focuses on severe stressors and relies on peripheral measures of neurobiological functioning during infancy. In the present study, we employed functional MRI during natural sleep to examine associations between a more moderate environmental stressor (nonphysical interparental conflict) and 6- to 12-month-old infants' neural processing of emotional tone of voice. The primary question was whether interparental conflict experienced by infants is associated with neural responses to emotional tone of voice, particularly very angry speech. Results indicated that maternal report of higher interparental conflict was associated with infants' greater neural responses to very angry relative to neutral speech across several brain regions implicated in emotion and stress reactivity and regulation (including rostral anterior cingulate cortex, caudate, thalamus, and hypothalamus). These findings suggest that even moderate environmental stress may be associated with brain functioning during infancy.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Neural systems underlying conflict processing have been well studied in the cognitive realm, but the extent to which these overlap with those underlying emotional conflict processing remains unclear. A novel adaptation of the AX Continuous Performance Task (AX-CPT), a stimulus-response incompatibility paradigm, was examined that permits close comparison of emotional and cognitive conflict conditions, through the use of affectively-valenced facial expressions as the response modality.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Brain activity was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the emotional AX-CPT. Emotional conflict was manipulated on a trial-by-trial basis, by requiring contextually pre-cued facial expressions to emotional probe stimuli (IAPS images) that were either affectively compatible (low-conflict) or incompatible (high-conflict). The emotion condition was contrasted against a matched cognitive condition that was identical in all respects, except that probe stimuli were emotionally neutral. Components of the brain cognitive control network, including dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), showed conflict-related activation increases in both conditions, but with higher activity during emotion conditions. In contrast, emotion conflict effects were not found in regions associated with affective processing, such as rostral ACC.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These activation patterns provide evidence for a domain-general neural system that is active for both emotional and cognitive conflict processing. In line with previous behavioural evidence, greatest activity in these brain regions occurred when both emotional and cognitive influences additively combined to produce increased interference.
Project description:Background:Impairment in facial emotion perception is an important domain of social cognition deficits in schizophrenia. Although impaired facial emotion perception has been found in individuals with negative schizotypy (NS), little is known about the corresponding change in brain functional connectivity. Methods:Sixty-four participants were classified into a high NS group (n = 34) and a low NS group (n = 30) based on their total scores on the Chapman scales for physical and social anhedonia. All participants undertook a facial emotion discrimination functional imaging task that consisted of four emotional valences (angry, fear, happy, and neutral). For univariate analysis, the signal change at the bilateral amygdala was compared for each emotional contrast using SPSS (P < .05). For the functional connectivity analysis, we calculated the beta-series functional connectivity of the bilateral amygdala with the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and compared the group differences in SPM12 (P < .05, small volume family-wise error correction). Results:No significant differences were found between the high and low NS groups in accuracy and reaction time in the facial emotion discrimination task. The high NS group showed reduced brain activations at the amygdala under fearful and neutral conditions. Reduced functional connectivity between the amygdala and the mPFC/dorsal anterior cingulate cortex under the happy and fearful conditions in the high NS group was also found. Conclusions:Our findings suggest that the individuals with high NS showed altered brain activity and functional connectivity at the amygdala during facial emotion processing and provide new evidence for understanding social cognition deficits in at-risk individuals.