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Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(2):249-59. Epub 2005 Jan 7.

Representation of attitudinal knowledge: role of prefrontal cortex, amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, 10 Centre Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA.


It has been proposed that behavior is influenced by representations of different types of knowledge: action representations, event knowledge, attitudes and stereotypes. Attitudes (representations of a concept or object and its emotional evaluation) allow us to respond quickly to a given stimulus. In this study, we explored the representation and inhibition of attitudes. We show that right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex mediates negative attitudes whereas left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex mediates positive attitudes. Parahippocampal regions and amygdala mediate evaluative processing. Furthermore, anxiety modulates right dorsolateral prefrontal activation during negative attitude processing. Inhibition of negative attitudes activates left orbitofrontal cortex: a region that when damaged is associated with socially inappropriate behavior in patients. Inhibition of positive attitudes activates a brain system involving right inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral anterior cingulate. Thus, we show that there are dissociable networks for the representation and inhibition of attitudes.

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