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Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 Aug 25;6:239. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00239. eCollection 2012.

Emotional and cognitive processing of narratives and individual appraisal styles: recruitment of cognitive control networks vs. modulation of deactivations.

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  • 1Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua Padua, Italy.


Research in psychotherapy has shown that the frequency of use of specific classes of words (such as terms with emotional valence) in descriptions of scenes of affective relevance is a possible indicator of psychological affective functioning. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we investigated the neural correlates of these linguistic markers in narrative texts depicting core aspects of emotional experience in human interaction, and their modulation by individual differences in the propensity to use these markers. Emotional words activated both lateral and medial aspects of the prefrontal cortex, as in previous studies of instructed emotion regulation and in consistence with recruitment of effortful control processes. However, individual differences in the spontaneous use of emotional terms in characterizing the stimulus material were prevalently associated with modulation of the signal in the perigenual cortex, in the retrosplenial cortex and precuneus, and the anterior insula/ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Modulation of signal by the presence of these textual markers or individual differences mostly involved areas deactivated by the main task, thus further differentiating neural correlates of these appraisal styles from those associated with effortful control. These findings are discussed in the context of reports in the literature of modulations of deactivations, which suggest their importance in orienting attention and generation of response in the presence of emotional information. These findings suggest that deactivations may play a functional role in emotional appraisal and may contribute to characterizing different appraisal styles.


appraisal; appraisal styles; emotion; reading; self-regulation

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