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Neuroimage. 2006 Nov 15;33(3):1016-27. Epub 2006 Sep 14.

A neural network reflecting individual differences in cognitive processing of emotions during perceptual decision making.

Author information

  • 1Berlin NeuroImaging Center, Department of Neurology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany. katja.meriau@charite.de

Abstract

Even simple perceptual decisions are influenced by the emotional content of a stimulus. Recent neuroimaging studies provide evidence about the neural mechanisms of perceptual decision making on emotional stimuli. However, the effect of individual differences in cognitive processing of emotions on perceptual decision making remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated how changes in the fMRI signal during perceptual decision making on facial stimuli covaried with individual differences in the ability to identify and communicate one's emotional state. Although this personality trait covaried with changes in activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) during gender decisions on facial expressions, there was no correlation during emotion decisions. Further, we investigated whether individual differences in the ability to cognitively process emotions depend on differences in the functional integration of emotional and cognitive brain regions. We therefore compared task-dependent changes in effective connectivity of dACC in individuals with good and with poor ability to cognitively process emotions using a psychophysiological interaction analysis. We found greater coupling of dACC with prefrontal regions in individuals with good ability to identify and communicate their emotional state. Conversely, individuals with poor ability in this domain showed greater coupling of dACC with the amygdala. Our data indicate that individual differences in the ability to identify and communicate one's emotional state are reflected by altered effective connectivity of the dACC with prefrontal and limbic regions. Thus, we provide neurophysiological evidence for a theoretical model that posits that a discommunication between limbic areas and the neocortex impairs cognitive processing of emotions.

PMID:
16973382
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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