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2014 American Neuropsychiatric Association Annual Meeting Abstracts (Journal Article)
Background: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by deficits in self-regulation, including impulsivity and affective instability. Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) is an evidence-based treatment with proven effectiveness in reducing symptoms across multiple cognitive-emotional domains in patients with BPD. In this study, longitudinal changes in neural activation patterns and predictors of treatment response were investigated using a dimensional symptom-based approach. Methods: A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation paradigm was used pre and post-TFP in patients with BPD, with statistical parametric analyses, to test hypotheses concerning the identification of frontolimbic biomarkers for clinical improvement. Using a within-subjects design, BPD subjects (N=10; mean age=27.8) were scanned pretreatment, and again after approximately one-year of TFP using a disorder-specific emotional linguistic go/no-go fMRI paradigm. Results: Analyses confirmed significant treatment related effects with relative increases in dorsal prefrontal cognitive control regions (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), and relative decreases in ventrolateral prefrontal and hippocampal areas following treatment. Clinical improvement in affective lability correlated positively with activity in left posterior-medial orbitofrontal cortex/ventral striatum (small-volume-corrected p value (psvc)=0.028); right amygdala/ parahippocampal activation correlated negatively with improvements in affective lability (psvc=0.005). Pretreatment hypoactivation in the left posterior-medial orbitofrontal cortex/ventral striatum predicted improvements in affective lability (psvc=0.013), and posttreatment improvements in constraint were predicted by pretreatment right anterior-dorsal anterior cingulate cortex hypoactivation (psvc=0.002). Conclusions: Individuals with BPD whose symptoms improved following TFP demonstrated modulation of neural activity in brain regions known to be implicated in behavioral inhibition in the context of negative emotional processing.
ACMHE Home Page (Web Article)
Website of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. The website includes a bibliography related to contemplative practice and contemplative education, including several papers written by fellows of the Association available as PDFs on the website.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE WHITE MATTER CONNECTIVITY BASED ON THE TENSOR-BASED MORPHOMETRY AND THE VOLUMETRIC WHITE MATTER PARCELLATIONS BASED ON DIFFUSION TENSOR IMAGING (2012, Journal Article)
We are interested in investigating white matter connectivity using a novel computational framework that does not use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) but only uses T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The proposed method relies on correlating Jacobian determinants across different voxels based on the tensor-based morphometry (TBM) framework. In this paper, we show agreement between the TBM-based white matter connectivity and the DTI-based white matter atlas. As an application, altered white matter connectivity in a clinical population is determined.
This book argues for the central role played by absorption in the functioning of the human mind. The importance of absorption makes itself felt in different ways; the two studies combined in this book concentrate on two of them. The first study, 'The Symbolic Mind', argues that, largely as a result of language acquisition, humans have two levels of cognition, which in normal circumstances are simultaneously active. Absorption is a (or the) means to circumvent some, perhaps all, of the associations that characterize one of these two levels of cognition, resulting in what is sometimes referred to as mysitcal experience, but which is not confined to mysticism and plays a role in various "religious" phenomena, and elsewhere. In the second study, 'The Psychology of the Buddha', Prof. Bronkhorst provides a theoretical context for the observation that absorption is a source of pleasure, grapples with Freud, and illustrates his observations through translations of ancient Buddhist texts from the Pali ans Sanskrit languages along with his psychological commentary.
Abstraction in perceptual symbol systems. (Journal Article)
After reviewing six senses of abstraction, this article focuses on abstractions that take the form of summary representations. Three central properties of these abstractions are established: ( i ) type-token interpretation; (ii) structured representation; and (iii) dynamic realization. Traditional theories of representation handle interpretation and structure well but are not sufficiently dynamical. Conversely, connectionist theories are exquisitely dynamic but have problems with structure. Perceptual symbol systems offer an approach that implements all three properties naturally. Within this framework, a loose collection of property and relation simulators develops to represent abstractions. Type-token interpretation results from binding a property simulator to a region of a perceived or simulated category member. Structured representation results from binding a configuration of property and relation simulators to multiple regions in an integrated manner. Dynamic realization results from applying different subsets of property and relation simulators to category members on different occasions. From this standpoint, there are no permanent or complete abstractions of a category in memory. Instead, abstraction is the skill to construct temporary online interpretations of a category's members. Although an infinite number of abstractions are possible, attractors develop for habitual approaches to interpretation. This approach provides new ways of thinking about abstraction phenomena in categorization, inference, background knowledge and learning.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment of Adolescent Depression: A Pilot Study in a Psychiatric Outpatient Setting (Journal Article)
Based on promising results with adults, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) presents as a treatment opportunity for depressed adolescents. We present a pilot study that compares ACT with treatment as usual (TAU), using random allocation of participants who were clinically referred to a psychiatric outpatient service. Participants were 30 adolescents, aged M = 14.9 (SD = 2.55), with 73.6% in the clinical range for depression. At posttreatment on measures of depression participants in the ACT condition showed significantly greater improvement statistically (d = 0.38), and 58% showed clinically reliable change with a response ratio of 1.59 in favor of ACT. Outcomes from 3-month follow-up data are tentative due to small numbers but suggest that improvement increased in magnitude. Measures of global functioning showed statistically significant improvement for both conditions, although clinical change measures favored only the ACT condition. The results support conducting a larger trial of ACT for the treatment of adolescent depression.
Activation of the anterior prefrontal cortex and serotonergic system is associated with improvements in mood and EEG changes induced by Zen meditation practice in novices (Journal Article)
To gain insight into the neurophysiological mechanisms involved in Zen meditation, we evaluated the effects of focused attention (FA) on breathing movements in the lower abdomen (Tanden) in novices. We investigated hemodynamic changes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an attention-related brain region, using 24-channel near-infrared spectroscopy during a 20-minute session of FA on Tanden breathing in 15 healthy volunteers. We found that the level of oxygenated hemoglobin in the anterior PFC was significantly increased during FA on Tanden breathing, accompanied by a reduction in feelings of negative mood compared to before the meditation session. Electroencephalography (EEG) revealed increased alpha band activity and decreased theta band activity during and after FA on Tanden breathing. EEG changes were correlated with a significant increase in whole blood serotonin (5-HT) levels. These results suggest that activation of the anterior PFC and 5-HT system may be responsible for the improvement of negative mood and EEG signal changes observed during FA on Tanden breathing.
Acute cortisol elevations cause heightened arousal ratings of objectively nonarousing stimuli (Journal Article)
To test the effects of cortisol on affective experience, the authors orally administered a placebo, 20 mg cortisol, or 40 mg cortisol to 85 men. Participants' affective responses to negative and neutral stimuli were measured. Self-reported affective state was also assessed. Participants in the 40-mg group (showing extreme cortisol elevations within the physiological range) rated neutral stimuli as more highly arousing than did participants in the placebo and 20-mg groups. Furthermore, within the 20-mg group, individuals with higher cortisol elevations made higher arousal ratings of neutral stimuli. However, cortisol was unrelated to self-reported affective state. Thus, findings indicate that acute cortisol elevations cause heightened arousal in response to objectively nonarousing stimuli, in the absence of effects on mood.
Adapting dialectical behavior therapy to help suicidal adolescents (2011, Journal Article)
Treating suicidal adolescents is fraught with challenges. Antidepressants may be associated with increased suicidal ideation in adolescents, although some data suggest that increased adolescent suicide rates are correlated with decreases in antidepressant prescribing. Adolescents hospitalized after a suicide attempt are likely to attempt suicide again after they are discharged. Such patients might not attend outpatient psychotherapy; a study of 167 adolescents discharged after a suicide attempt found that 26% never attended follow-up appointments and 11% went once. Emerging research supports the effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for suicidal adolescents. DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that combines individual therapy, skills training, and telephone coaching and is implemented by a therapist consultation team that meets weekly. This article reviews evidence supporting the efficacy of DBT for suicidal adolescents and describes principles of outpatient DBT for these patients as developed by Miller et al.
Adequate Relief in a Treatment Trial With IBS Patients: A Prospective Assessment (Journal Article)
OBJECTIVES: Adequate relief (AR) of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms (IBS-AR) has been used as a primary end point in many randomized controlled trials of IBS and is considered by the Rome III committee to be an acceptable primary end point. However, controversy exists on whether baseline severity confounds the effect of the treatment outcome. The aim (1) is to compare a subjective report of IBS-AR with global assessment of improvement (IBS-GAI), change in IBS symptom severity scale (IBS-SSS), and IBS quality of life (IBS-QOL); (2) to explore whether initial IBS symptom severity influences the ability of these outcome measures to detect differences post treatment; and (3) to determine whether psychological symptoms influence the sensitivity of these measures, in a randomized controlled treatment trial. METHODS: A total of 289 adult IBS patients were recruited to a treatment trial. Baseline IBS-SSS scores were used to classify IBS severity as mild (<175), moderate (175–300), or severe (>300). Questionnaires were completed at baseline and after 3 weeks of treatment with sham acupuncture or wait-list control. RESULTS: IBS baseline severity (IBS-SSS) significantly affected the proportion of patients who reported IBS-AR at 3 weeks (mild, 70%; moderate, 49.7%; severe, 38.8%) (P<0.05). However, once the patients who reported IBS-AR at baseline (28.0%) were excluded from the analysis, baseline severity no longer affected the proportion of patients reporting IBS-AR. Baseline severity did not have a significant effect on patients reporting moderate or significant improvement on the IBS-GAI (mild, 30%; moderate, 25.3%; severe, 18.8%) (P=NS). Psychological symptoms had no significant correlations with responders after adjusting for baseline severity. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that IBS-AR as an end point is inversely related to baseline symptom severity. However, if patients who report AR at screening were excluded from study participation, baseline symptom severity was no longer confounded with a report of AR at the study end point.
Adiponectin, interleukin-6, and cardiovascular disease risk factors are modified by a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention in overweight and obese men (Journal Article)
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and markers of inflammation and endothelial function in overweight and obese men. DESIGN: Nonrandomized prospective lifestyle intervention study with pre-post design. SETTING AND LOCATION: Integral Health Clinic, an outpatient facility providing yoga-based lifestyle intervention programs for prevention and management of chronic diseases. SUBJECTS: Overweight and obese men (n=51) were enrolled in the study. Subjects who were physically unable to participate and those participating in other interventions were excluded from the study. INTERVENTION: A pretested intervention program including asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), group discussions, lectures, and individualized advice. OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was weight loss, and the secondary outcome measures were clinical and laboratory correlates of CVD risk, levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), adiponectin, and endothelin-1 (ET-1). RESULTS: Men (n=51, body mass index [BMI] 26.26±2.42 kg/m(2)) were enrolled and underwent a yoga-based lifestyle intervention for 10 days. Of 51 subjects, 30 completed the study. There was a significant reduction in weight from Baseline to Day 10 (74.60±7.98, 72.69±8.37 kg, p<0.001, respectively), BMI (26.26±2.42, 25.69±2.47 kg/m(2), p<0.001, respectively), and systolic BP (121.73±11.58, 116.73±9.00, p=0.042, respectively). There was a significant reduction in plasma IL-6 from Baseline to Day 10 (median 2.24 vs. 1.26 pg/mL, respectively, p=0.012). There was a significant increase in the plasma adiponectin from Baseline to Day 10 (median 4.95 vs. 6.26 μg/mL, respectively, p=0.014). Plasma ET-1 level remained unchanged. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that even a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention may be an important modality to reduce the risk for CVD as indicated by weight loss, reduction in systolic blood pressure, an increase in adiponectin, and decrease in IL-6 in overweight and obese men.
Adolescent Endometriosis-Related Pelvic Pain Treated with Acupuncture: Two Case Reports (Journal Article)
Background: Chronic pelvic pain in adolescents accounts for 10% of outpatient gynecology visits, and 70% of adolescent patients whose pelvic pain is unresponsive to initial therapy have endometriosis. To date, there has been no published research investigating the use of acupuncture for adolescents with chronic pelvic pain and/or endometriosis. Methods: This paper presents two case reports describing the impact of a course of acupuncture on adolescent girls with endometriosis-related chronic pelvic pain of more than 1 year. Results: Both patients, undergoing between 9 and 15 treatments over a 7- to 12-week period, experienced modest improvement in pain as measured by oral self-reports of pain on a scale from 1 to 10, as well as selfor family-reported improvement in headaches, nausea and fatigue. No adverse effects were reported. Conclusions: These case reports provide preliminary evidence that acupuncture may be an acceptable and safe adjunct treatment therapy for some adolescents with endometriosis-related pelvic pain refractory to standard antiendometriosis therapies. These observations suggest that a prospective, randomized controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of acupuncture for this population may be warranted.
Adolescents With Conduct Disorder Can Be Mindful of Their Aggressive Behavior (Journal Article)
Adolescents with conduct disorder frequently engage in aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Often these behaviors are controlled or managed through behavioral or other psychosocial interventions. However, such interventions do not always ensure lasting changes in an adolescent's response repertoire so that he or she does not engage in aggression when exposed to the same situations that gave rise to the behavior previously. Mindfulness training provides a treatment option that helps an individual focus and attend to conditions that give rise to maladaptive behavior.Using a multiple baseline design,we assessed the effectiveness of a mindfulness training procedure in modulating the aggressive behavior of three adolescents who were at risk of expulsion from school because of this behavior. The adolescents were able to learn the mindfulness procedure successfully and use it in situations that previously occasioned aggressive behavior.This led to large decreases in the aggression of all three individuals. Follow-up data showed that the adolescents were able to keep their aggressive behavior at socially acceptable levels in school through to graduation. Maladaptive behaviors, other than aggression, that the adolescents chose not to modify, showed no consistent change during mindfulness training, practice, and follow-up.
Adolescents, substance abuse, and the treatment of insomnia and daytime sleepiness (Journal Article)
Adolescence is a time of change that can be both exciting and stressful. In this review, we focus on the central role that disturbed sleep and daytime sleepiness occupies in interactions involving substance abuse and negative health, social, and emotional outcomes. As a means of improving sleep and lowering risk for recidivism of substance abuse, we developed and implemented a six-session group treatment to treat sleep disturbances in adolescents who have received treatment for substance abuse. The components of the treatment are stimulus control instructions, use of bright light to regularize sleep, sleep hygiene education, cognitive therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Preliminary evidence indicates that participants who completed four or more sessions in the treatment program showed improved sleep and that improving sleep may lead to a reduction in substance abuse problems at the 12-month follow-up.
Adolescents with Asperger syndrome can use a mindfulness-based strategy to control their aggressive behavior (Journal Article)
Children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome occasionally exhibit aggressive behavior against peers and parents. In a multiple baseline design across subjects, three adolescents with Asperger syndrome were taught to use a mindfulness-based procedure called Meditation on the Soles of the Feet to control their physical aggression in the family home and during outings in the community. They were taught to shift the focus of their attention from the negative emotions that triggered their aggressive behavior to a neutral stimulus, the soles of their feet. Prior to training in the mindfulness-based procedure the adolescents had moderate rates of aggression. During mindfulness practice, which lasted between 17 and 24 weeks, their mean rates of aggression per week decreased from 2.7, 2.5 and 3.2 to 0.9, 1.1, and 0.9, respectively, with no instances observed during the last 3 weeks of mindfulness practice. No episodes of physical aggression occurred during a 4-year follow-up. This study suggests that adolescents with Asperger syndrome may successfully use a mindfulness-based procedure to control their aggressive behavior.
The Aesthetics of Spiritual Practice and the Creation of Moral and Musical Subjectivities in Aleppo, Syria (Journal Article)
This essay analyzes the performance of dhikr (the invocation of God through prayer, sons, and movement) in Aleppo, Syria, as an embodied practice mediated by specific repertoires of aesthetic and kinesthetic practices. In dhikr, aesthetic stimuli produce an experience of temporal transformation that participants narrate as "ecstasy." Performing dhikr also conditions a musical self, which in turn allows for the habituation of spiritual states. This suggests the importance of investigating the interface of embodied practices, temporality, and the aesthetics of spiritual practice. (Aesthetics, temporality, music, Islam, Syria).
Affective Intensity and Emotional Responses (1996, Journal Article)
The AIM, a questionnaire intended to measure affective intensity has, to date, only been related to differences in self-reported intensity of emotional experience (Larsen & Diener, 1987). We investigated whether it is also related to the intensity of facial expressions of emotion shown by subjects after having been startled. Although the AIM was related to some self-report measures of emotion, the AIM was not related to post-startle facial expressions of emotion.
Affective Style and Affective Disorders: Perspectives from Affective Neuroscience (1998, Journal Article)
Individual differences in emotional reactivity or affective style can be decomposed into more elementary constituents. Several separable of affective style are identified such as the threshold for reactivity, peak amplitude of response, the rise time to peak and the recovery time. latter two characteristics constitute components of affective chronometry The circuitry that underlies two fundamental forms of motivation and and withdrawal-related processes-is described. Data on differences in functional activity in certain components of these are next reviewed, with an emphasis on the nomological network of surrounding individual differences in asymmetric prefrontal The relevance of such differences for understanding the nature affective dysfunction in affective disorders is then considered. The ends by considering what the prefrontal cortex “does” in certain of affective style and highlights some of the important questions for future research.
Affective judgments of faces modulate early activity (approximately 160 ms) within the fusiform gyri (Journal Article)
Functional neuroimaging studies have implicated the fusiform gyri (FG) in structural encoding of faces, while event-related potential (ERP) and magnetoencephalography studies have shown that such encoding occurs approximately 170 ms poststimulus. Behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies suggest that processes involved in face recognition may be strongly modulated by socially relevant information conveyed by faces. To test the hypothesis that affective information indeed modulates early stages of face processing, ERPs were recorded to individually assessed liked, neutral, and disliked faces and checkerboard-reversal stimuli. At the N170 latency, the cortical three-dimensional distribution of current density was computed in stereotactic space using a tomographic source localization technique. Mean activity was extracted from the FG, defined by structure-probability maps, and a meta-cluster delineated by the coordinates of the voxel with the strongest face-sensitive response from five published functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. In the FG, approximately 160 ms poststimulus, liked faces elicited stronger activation than disliked and neutral faces and checkerboard-reversal stimuli. Further, confirming recent results, affect-modulated brain electrical activity started very early in the human brain (approximately 112 ms). These findings suggest that affective features conveyed by faces modulate structural face encoding. Behavioral results from an independent study revealed that the stimuli were not biased toward particular facial expressions and confirmed that liked faces were rated as more attractive. Increased FG activation for liked faces may thus be interpreted as reflecting enhanced attention due to their saliency.
Affective modulation of eyeblink startle with reward and threat (Journal Article)
An emotion-modulated acoustic startle paradigm for inducing positive and negative affect was used to address pregoal and postgoal affect. Participants played a computerized lottery task in which they chose digits that could match a subsequently displayed, random set of numbers. In the positive conditions, matches led to monetary rewards. In the negative condition, matches led to an aversive noise blast. In three experiments, we found eyeblink startle magnitude was potentiated just prior to feedback concerning reward outcome, suppressed following the feedback that a monetary reward was won, and potentiated when threatened with an aversive noise. When presented with a 0%, 45%, 90%, or 100% chance of winning, higher probabilities suppressed startle response after feedback whereas the 45% trials did not. These data indicate that postgoal positive affect (winning reward) reliably suppressed the startle response whereas pregoal positive affect did not.
Affective neural circuitry and mind-body influences in asthma (Journal Article)
Individuals with asthma have twice the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders as individuals without asthma and these psychological factors are associated with worse outcomes and greater need for medical intervention. Similarly, asthma symptom onset and exacerbation often occur during times of increased psychological stress. Remission from depression, on the other hand, is associated with improvement in asthma symptoms and decreased usage of asthma medication. Yet research aimed at understanding the biological underpinnings of asthma has focused almost exclusively on the periphery. An extensive literature documents the relationship between emotion and asthma, but little work has explored the function of affective neural circuitry in asthma symptom expression. Therefore, the following review integrates neuroimaging research related to factors that may impact symptom expression in asthma, such as individual differences in sensitivity to visceral signals, the influence of expectation and emotion on symptom perception, and changes related to disease chronicity, such as conditioning and plasticity. The synthesis of these literatures suggests that the insular and anterior cingulate cortices, in addition to other brain regions previously implicated in the regulation of emotion, may be both responsive to asthma-related bodily changes and important in influencing the appearance and persistence of symptom expression in asthma.
Affective neural circuitry and mind-body influences in asthma (Journal Article)
Individuals with asthma have twice the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders as individuals without asthma and these psychological factors are associated with worse outcomes and greater need for medical intervention. Similarly, asthma symptom onset and exacerbation often occur during times of increased psychological stress. Remission from depression, on the other hand, is associated with improvement in asthma symptoms and decreased usage of asthma medication. Yet research aimed at understanding the biological underpinnings of asthma has focused almost exclusively on the periphery. An extensive literature documents the relationship between emotion and asthma, but little work has explored the function of affective neural circuitry in asthma symptom expression. Therefore, the following review integrates neuroimaging research related to factors that may impact symptom expression in asthma, such as individual differences in sensitivity to visceral signals, the influence of expectation and emotion on symptom perception, and changes related to disease chronicity, such as conditioning and plasticity. The synthesis of these literatures suggests that the insular and anterior cingulate cortices, in addition to other brain regions previously implicated in the regulation of emotion, may be both responsive to asthma-related bodily changes and important in influencing the appearance and persistence of symptom expression in asthma.
Affective neuroscience and psychophysiology: toward a synthesis (Journal Article)
This article reviews the author's program of research on the neural substrates of emotion and affective style and their behavioral and peripheral biological correlates. Two core dimensions along which affect is organized are approach and withdrawal. Some of the key circuitry underlying approach and withdrawal components of emotion is reviewed with an emphasis on the role played by different sectors of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and amygdala. Affective style refers to individual differences in valence-specific features of emotional reactivity and regulation. The different parameters of affective style can be objectively measured using specific laboratory probes. Relations between individual differences in prefrontal and amygdala function and specific components of affective style are illustrated. The final section of the article concludes with a brief discussion of plasticity in the central circuitry of emotion and the possibility that this circuitry can be shaped by training experiences that might potentially promote a more resilient, positive affective style. The implications of this body of work for a broader conception of psychophysiology and for training the next generation of psychophysiologists are considered in the conclusion.
Affective neuroscience: the emergence of a discipline (Journal Article)
This past year has seen significant advances in our understanding of the physiology of emotion. Attention continues to focus on the amygdala and its interconnections with prefrontal cortical regions. New evidence underscores the importance of lateralization for emotion. There are also new findings on the physiological predictors of individual differences in emotional behavior and experience, and on the role of autonomic arousal in emotional memory.
Affective style and in vivo immune response: Neurobehavioral mechanisms (Journal Article)
Considerable evidence exists to support an association between psychological states and immune function. However, the mechanisms by which such states are instantiated in the brain and influence the immune system are poorly understood. The present study investigated relations among physiological measures of affective style, psychological well being, and immune function. Negative and positive affect were elicited by using an autobiographical writing task. Electroencephalography and affect-modulated eye-blink startle were used to measure trait and state negative affect. Participants were vaccinated for influenza, and antibody titers after the vaccine were assayed to provide an in vivo measure of immune function. Higher levels of right-prefrontal electroencephalographic activation and greater magnitude of the startle reflex reliably predicted poorer immune response. These data support the hypothesis that individuals characterized by a more negative affective style mount a weaker immune response and therefore may be at greater risk for illness than those with a more positive affective style.
Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: Brain mechanisms and plasticity. (2000, Journal Article)
The brain circuitry underlying emotion includes several territories of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and related structures. In general, the PFC represents emotion in the absence of immediately present incentives and thus plays a crucial role in the anticipation of the future affective consequences of action, as well as in the persistence of emotion following the offset of an elicitor. The functions of the other structures in this circuit are also considered. Individual differences in this circuitry are reviewed, with an emphasis on asymmetries within the PFC and activation of the amygdala as 2 key components of affective style. These individual differences are related to both behavioral and biological variables associated with affective style and emotion regulation. Plasticity in this circuitry and its implications for transforming emotion and cultivating positive affect and resilience are considered.
Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: brain mechanisms and plasticity (Journal Article)
The brain circuitry underlying emotion includes several territories of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and related structures. In general, the PFC represents emotion in the absence of immediately present incentives and thus plays a crucial role in the anticipation of the future affective consequences of action, as well as in the persistence of emotion following the offset of an elicitor. The functions of the other structures in this circuit are also considered. Individual differences in this circuitry are reviewed, with an emphasis on asymmetries within the PFC and activation of the amygdala as 2 key components of affective style. These individual differences are related to both behavioral and biological variables associated with affective style and emotion regulation. Plasticity in this circuitry and its implications for transforming emotion and cultivating positive affect and resilience are considered.
Age differences in visual evoked potential estimates on interhemishperic transfer (1996, Journal Article)
Twenty-six younger (ages 18–36 years) and 19 older (ages 60–88 years) healthy right-handed men and women were tested for interhemispheric transfer by using visual evoked potentials lo laterally presented checkerboards. Interhemispheric transfer time (IHTT) was estimated by subtracting latencies for both P100 and N160 peaks of the waveform contralateral to the stimulus from the waveform ipsilateral to the stimulus for homologous sites. The quality of interhemispheric transfer was estimated by comparing peak-to-peak amplitudes for homologous sites. IHTT did not change across age, but there was a suppression of the waveform over the indirectly stimulated hemisphere in the older participants. The significance of this finding for age-related changes in functions mediated by the corpus callosum is discussed.
Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation (Journal Article)
Zen meditation, a Buddhist practice centered on attentional and postural self-regulation, has been speculated to bring about beneficial long-term effects for the individual, ranging from stress reduction to improvement of cognitive function. In this study, we examined how the regular practice of meditation may affect the normal age-related decline of cerebral gray matter volume and attentional performance observed in healthy individuals. Voxel-based morphometry for MRI anatomical brain images and a computerized sustained attention task were employed in 13 regular practitioners of Zen meditation and 13 matched controls. While control subjects displayed the expected negative correlation of both gray matter volume and attentional performance with age, meditators did not show a significant correlation of either measure with age. The effect of meditation on gray matter volume was most prominent in the putamen, a structure strongly implicated in attentional processing. These findings suggest that the regular practice of meditation may have neuroprotective effects and reduce the cognitive decline associated with normal aging.
Age-related differences in function and structure of rSMG and reduced functional connectivity with DLPFC explains heightened emotional egocentricity bias in childhood (Journal Article)
Humans often judge others egocentrically, assuming that they feel or think similarly to themselves. Emotional egocentricity bias (EEB) occurs in situations when others feel differently to oneself. Using a novel paradigm, we investigated the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the developmental capacity to overcome such EEB in children compared with adults. We showed that children display a stronger EEB than adults and that this correlates with reduced activation in right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG) as well as reduced coupling between rSMG and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC) in children compared with adults. Crucially, functional recruitment of rSMG was associated with age-related differences in cortical thickness of this region. Although in adults the mere presence of emotional conflict occurs between self and other recruited rSMG, rSMG-lDLPFC coupling was only observed when implementing empathic judgements. Finally, resting state analyses comparing connectivity patterns of rSMG with that of right temporoparietal junction suggested a unique role of rSMG for self-other distinction in the emotional domain for adults as well as for children. Thus, children’s difficulties in overcoming EEB may be due to late maturation of regions distinguishing between conflicting socio-affective information and relaying this information to regions necessary for implementing accurate judgments.
Aging is associated with positive responding to neutral information but reduced recovery from negative information (Journal Article)
Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.
Aging is associated with positive responding to neutral information but reduced recovery from negative information (Journal Article)
Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.
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