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Neural correlates of regulation of positive and negative emotions: An fMRI study

Neuroscience Letters
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.03.094
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Prefrontal Region
  • Anterior Cingulate Cortex
  • Insula
  • Amygdala
  • Iaps


Abstract Regulation of emotion is important for adaptive social functioning and mental well-being. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study identified neural correlates of regulation of positive or negative emotion. Twelve healthy female Chinese participants performed the experimental task that required them to simply view emotional pictures or to regulate their emotions induced by these pictures while their brain activities were monitored by a 1.5 T MRI scanner. The neuroimaging findings indicate that the left superior and lateral frontal regions (BA8/9) are common neural correlates of regulation of both emotions. For regulation of positive or negative emotion, changes of BOLD responses in the prefrontal regions and the left insula are associated with regulation of positive emotion; whereas activity of the left orbitofrontal gyrus, the left superior frontal gyrus, and the anterior cingulate gyrus appears to be involved in regulation of negative emotion. According to the participants’ self-report, they appeared to be more effective in regulating positive than negative emotions, which may relate to the distinct patterns of neural activity associated with regulation of the specific emotion. As a conclusion, our findings suggest that there are shared as well as valence-specific neurocognitive mechanisms underlying regulation of positive and negative emotions. Enhanced knowledge about the neural mechanisms of emotion regulation helps improve understanding of the complex interplay of emotion and cognition underlying human behaviors.

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