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Psychol Sci. 2009 Nov;20(11):1322-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02459.x.

Bottom-up and top-down processes in emotion generation: common and distinct neural mechanisms.

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1
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. ochsner@psych.columbia.edu

Abstract

Emotions are generally thought to arise through the interaction of bottom-up and top-down processes. However, prior work has not delineated their relative contributions. In a sample of 20 females, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the neural correlates of negative emotions generated by the bottom-up perception of aversive images and by the top-down interpretation of neutral images as aversive. We found that (a) both types of responses activated the amygdala, although bottom-up responses did so more strongly; (b) bottom-up responses activated systems for attending to and encoding perceptual and affective stimulus properties, whereas top-down responses activated prefrontal regions that represent high-level cognitive interpretations; and (c) self-reported affect correlated with activity in the amygdala during bottom-up responding and with activity in the medial prefrontal cortex during top-down responding. These findings provide a neural foundation for emotion theories that posit multiple kinds of appraisal processes and help to clarify mechanisms underlying clinically relevant forms of emotion dysregulation.

PMID:
19883494
PMCID:
PMC2858766
DOI:
10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02459.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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