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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Feb;9(2):176-81. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss131. Epub 2012 Nov 18.

Temporal dynamics of emotional responding: amygdala recovery predicts emotional traits.

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Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, USA.


An individual's affective style is influenced by many things, including the manner in which an individual responds to an emotional challenge. Emotional response is composed of a number of factors, two of which are the initial reactivity to an emotional stimulus and the subsequent recovery once the stimulus terminates or ceases to be relevant. However, most neuroimaging studies examining emotional processing in humans focus on the magnitude of initial reactivity to a stimulus rather than the prolonged response. In this study, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the time course of amygdala activity in healthy adults in response to presentation of negative images. We split the amygdala time course into an initial reactivity period and a recovery period beginning after the offset of the stimulus. We find that initial reactivity in the amygdala does not predict trait measures of affective style. Conversely, amygdala recovery shows predictive power such that slower amygdala recovery from negative images predicts greater trait neuroticism, in addition to lower levels of likability of a set of social stimuli (neutral faces). These data underscore the importance of taking into account temporal dynamics when studying affective processing using neuroimaging.


amygdala; chronometry; emotion; fMRI; time course

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