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Functional coupling of the orbitofrontal cortex and the basolateral amygdala mediates the association between spontaneous reappraisal and emotional response

Wei Gao, Bharat Biswal, Shengdong Chen, Xinran Wu,
Published: 15 May 2021
NeuroImage , Volume 232; doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117918

Abstract: Emotional regulation is known to be associated with activity in the amygdala. The amygdala is an emotion-generative region that comprises of structurally and functionally distinct nuclei. However, little is known about the contributions of different frontal-amygdala sub-region pathways to emotion regulation. Here, we investigated how functional couplings between frontal regions and amygdala sub-regions are involved in different spontaneous emotion regulation processes by using an individual-difference approach and a generalized psycho-physiological interaction (gPPI) approach. Specifically, 50 healthy participants reported their dispositional use of spontaneous cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression in daily life and their actual use of these two strategies during the performance of an emotional-picture watching task. Results showed that functional coupling between the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the basolateral amygdala (BLA) was associated with higher scores of both dispositional and actual uses of reappraisal. Similarly, functional coupling between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the centromedial amygdala (CMA) was associated with higher scores of both dispositional and actual uses of suppression. Mediation analyses indicated that functional coupling of the right OFC-BLA partially mediated the association between reappraisal and emotional response, irrespective of whether reappraisal was measured by dispositional use (indirect effect(SE)=-0.2021 (0.0811), 95%CI(BC)= [-0.3851, -0.0655]) or actual use (indirect effect(SE)=-0.1951 (0.0796), 95%CI(BC)= [-0.3654, -0.0518])). These findings suggest that spontaneous reappraisal and suppression involve distinct frontal- amygdala functional couplings, and the modulation of BLA activity from OFC may be necessary for changing emotional response during spontaneous reappraisal.
Keywords: Suppression / Emotion regulation / Basolateral amygdala / Reappraisal / Centromedial amygdala / Functional coupling

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