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Neural signatures of the response to emotional distraction: a review of evidence from brain imaging investigations.

Iordan AD, Dolcos S, Dolcos F - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Bottom Line: First, the response to emotional distraction is associated with opposing patterns of activity in a ventral "hot" affective system (HotEmo, showing increased activity) and a dorsal "cold" executive system (ColdEx, showing decreased activity).Second, coping with emotional distraction involves top-down control in order to counteract the bottom-up influence of emotional distraction, and involves interactions between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.Third, both the response to and coping with emotional distraction are influenced by individual differences affecting emotional sensitivity and distractibility, which are linked to alterations of both HotEmo and ColdEx neural systems.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA ; Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA.

ABSTRACT
Prompt responses to emotional, potentially threatening, stimuli are supported by neural mechanisms that allow for privileged access of emotional information to processing resources. The existence of these mechanisms can also make emotional stimuli potent distracters, particularly when task-irrelevant. The ability to deploy cognitive control in order to cope with emotional distraction is essential for adaptive behavior, while reduced control may lead to enhanced emotional distractibility, which is often a hallmark of affective disorders. Evidence suggests that increased susceptibility to emotional distraction is linked to changes in the processing of emotional information that affect both the basic response to and coping with emotional distraction, but the neural correlates of these phenomena are not clear. The present review discusses emerging evidence from brain imaging studies addressing these issues, and highlights the following three aspects. First, the response to emotional distraction is associated with opposing patterns of activity in a ventral "hot" affective system (HotEmo, showing increased activity) and a dorsal "cold" executive system (ColdEx, showing decreased activity). Second, coping with emotional distraction involves top-down control in order to counteract the bottom-up influence of emotional distraction, and involves interactions between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Third, both the response to and coping with emotional distraction are influenced by individual differences affecting emotional sensitivity and distractibility, which are linked to alterations of both HotEmo and ColdEx neural systems. Collectively, the available evidence identifies specific neural signatures of the response to emotional challenge, which are fundamental to understanding the mechanisms of emotion-cognition interactions in healthy functioning, and the changes linked to individual variation in emotional distractibility and susceptibility to affective disorders.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Increased subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) activity to emotional distraction, in women. The area indicated by the white circle (BA 25), showing a difference in activation in response to angry faces in women versus men, was masked with a map identifying a main effect of emotion relative to baseline in women. The bar graph illustrates the fMRI signal, as extracted from the region of interest corresponding to the difference in activation between women and men. The activation map is superimposed on a high-resolution brain image displayed in sagittal view (with x indicating the Talairach coordinate on the left-right axis of the brain). Error bars represent standard errors of means. Emo, Emotional distracters; Neu, Neutral distracters; Scr, Scrambled distracters. Reproduced from Iordan et al. (2013a), with permission.
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Figure 8: Increased subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) activity to emotional distraction, in women. The area indicated by the white circle (BA 25), showing a difference in activation in response to angry faces in women versus men, was masked with a map identifying a main effect of emotion relative to baseline in women. The bar graph illustrates the fMRI signal, as extracted from the region of interest corresponding to the difference in activation between women and men. The activation map is superimposed on a high-resolution brain image displayed in sagittal view (with x indicating the Talairach coordinate on the left-right axis of the brain). Error bars represent standard errors of means. Emo, Emotional distracters; Neu, Neutral distracters; Scr, Scrambled distracters. Reproduced from Iordan et al. (2013a), with permission.

Mentions: The study by Iordan et al. (2013a) identified sex differences in the basic response to emotional distraction, consistent with the idea of increased bottom-up impact of emotional distraction in women relative to men. Specifically, women showed increased sensitivity to emotional distraction in regions associated with the HotEmo system, such as FG, AMY, and subgenual ACC. Supporting the idea of enhanced bottom-up effects in female participants, the left FG, a perceptual area susceptible to modulation by emotion, showed a pattern of increased activity in response to angry-face distracters in women relative to men and negative correlation with WM performance in women only. These results complement the findings of our previous investigation in women (Denkova et al., 2010), in which a pattern of increased activity and negative correlation with WM performance was observed in the right FG (BA 37). Activity in the same right FG area, however, was not different and did not co-vary with WM performance in men. Given that FG is a region known to be selectively responsive to faces, the possibility that this effect might be more specific to emotional faces or to other emotional stimuli depicting human presence could not be excluded. An increased response to emotional distraction in women relative to men was also identified in the subgenual ACC (Figure 8), a higher-level emotion integration region, which has been linked to the experience of negative emotion, in both healthy and clinical samples (Gotlib et al., 2005; Mobbs et al., 2009; Baeken et al., 2010; Ball et al., 2012).


Neural signatures of the response to emotional distraction: a review of evidence from brain imaging investigations.

Iordan AD, Dolcos S, Dolcos F - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Increased subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) activity to emotional distraction, in women. The area indicated by the white circle (BA 25), showing a difference in activation in response to angry faces in women versus men, was masked with a map identifying a main effect of emotion relative to baseline in women. The bar graph illustrates the fMRI signal, as extracted from the region of interest corresponding to the difference in activation between women and men. The activation map is superimposed on a high-resolution brain image displayed in sagittal view (with x indicating the Talairach coordinate on the left-right axis of the brain). Error bars represent standard errors of means. Emo, Emotional distracters; Neu, Neutral distracters; Scr, Scrambled distracters. Reproduced from Iordan et al. (2013a), with permission.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3672684&req=5

Figure 8: Increased subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) activity to emotional distraction, in women. The area indicated by the white circle (BA 25), showing a difference in activation in response to angry faces in women versus men, was masked with a map identifying a main effect of emotion relative to baseline in women. The bar graph illustrates the fMRI signal, as extracted from the region of interest corresponding to the difference in activation between women and men. The activation map is superimposed on a high-resolution brain image displayed in sagittal view (with x indicating the Talairach coordinate on the left-right axis of the brain). Error bars represent standard errors of means. Emo, Emotional distracters; Neu, Neutral distracters; Scr, Scrambled distracters. Reproduced from Iordan et al. (2013a), with permission.
Mentions: The study by Iordan et al. (2013a) identified sex differences in the basic response to emotional distraction, consistent with the idea of increased bottom-up impact of emotional distraction in women relative to men. Specifically, women showed increased sensitivity to emotional distraction in regions associated with the HotEmo system, such as FG, AMY, and subgenual ACC. Supporting the idea of enhanced bottom-up effects in female participants, the left FG, a perceptual area susceptible to modulation by emotion, showed a pattern of increased activity in response to angry-face distracters in women relative to men and negative correlation with WM performance in women only. These results complement the findings of our previous investigation in women (Denkova et al., 2010), in which a pattern of increased activity and negative correlation with WM performance was observed in the right FG (BA 37). Activity in the same right FG area, however, was not different and did not co-vary with WM performance in men. Given that FG is a region known to be selectively responsive to faces, the possibility that this effect might be more specific to emotional faces or to other emotional stimuli depicting human presence could not be excluded. An increased response to emotional distraction in women relative to men was also identified in the subgenual ACC (Figure 8), a higher-level emotion integration region, which has been linked to the experience of negative emotion, in both healthy and clinical samples (Gotlib et al., 2005; Mobbs et al., 2009; Baeken et al., 2010; Ball et al., 2012).

Bottom Line: First, the response to emotional distraction is associated with opposing patterns of activity in a ventral "hot" affective system (HotEmo, showing increased activity) and a dorsal "cold" executive system (ColdEx, showing decreased activity).Second, coping with emotional distraction involves top-down control in order to counteract the bottom-up influence of emotional distraction, and involves interactions between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.Third, both the response to and coping with emotional distraction are influenced by individual differences affecting emotional sensitivity and distractibility, which are linked to alterations of both HotEmo and ColdEx neural systems.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA ; Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA.

ABSTRACT
Prompt responses to emotional, potentially threatening, stimuli are supported by neural mechanisms that allow for privileged access of emotional information to processing resources. The existence of these mechanisms can also make emotional stimuli potent distracters, particularly when task-irrelevant. The ability to deploy cognitive control in order to cope with emotional distraction is essential for adaptive behavior, while reduced control may lead to enhanced emotional distractibility, which is often a hallmark of affective disorders. Evidence suggests that increased susceptibility to emotional distraction is linked to changes in the processing of emotional information that affect both the basic response to and coping with emotional distraction, but the neural correlates of these phenomena are not clear. The present review discusses emerging evidence from brain imaging studies addressing these issues, and highlights the following three aspects. First, the response to emotional distraction is associated with opposing patterns of activity in a ventral "hot" affective system (HotEmo, showing increased activity) and a dorsal "cold" executive system (ColdEx, showing decreased activity). Second, coping with emotional distraction involves top-down control in order to counteract the bottom-up influence of emotional distraction, and involves interactions between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Third, both the response to and coping with emotional distraction are influenced by individual differences affecting emotional sensitivity and distractibility, which are linked to alterations of both HotEmo and ColdEx neural systems. Collectively, the available evidence identifies specific neural signatures of the response to emotional challenge, which are fundamental to understanding the mechanisms of emotion-cognition interactions in healthy functioning, and the changes linked to individual variation in emotional distractibility and susceptibility to affective disorders.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus