Current evidence concerning the neurocircuitry underlying the interplay between attention and emotion is mainly correlational. We used high-frequency repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (HF-rTMS) to experimentally manipulate activity within the right or left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of healthy women and examined changes in attentional processing of emotional information using an emotional modification of the exogenous cueing task during event-related fMRI. Right prefrontal HF-rTMS resulted in impaired disengagement from angry faces, associated with decreased activation within the right DLPFC, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and left superior parietal gyrus, combined with increased activity within the right amygdala. Left prefrontal HF-rTMS resulted in diminished attentional engagement by angry faces and was associated with increased activity within the right DLPFC, dACC, right superior parietal gyrus and left orbitofrontal cortex. The present observations are in line with reports of a functionally interactive network of cortical-limbic pathways that play a central role in emotion regulation.
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