The functional properties of resting brain activity are poorly understood, but have generally been related to self-monitoring and introspective processes. Here we investigated how emotionally positive and negative information differentially influenced subsequent brain activity at rest. We acquired fMRI data in 15 participants during rest periods following fearful, joyful, and neutral movies. Several brain regions were more active during resting than during movie-watching, including posterior/anterior cingulate cortices (PCC, ACC), bilateral insula and inferior parietal lobules (IPL). Functional connectivity at different frequency bands was also assessed using a wavelet correlation approach and small-world network analysis. Resting activity in ACC and insula as well as their coupling were strongly enhanced by preceding emotions, while coupling between ventral-medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala was selectively reduced. These effects were more pronounced after fearful than joyful movies for higher frequency bands. Moreover, the initial suppression of resting activity in ACC and insula after emotional stimuli was followed by a gradual restoration over time. Emotions did not affect IPL average activity but increased its connectivity with other regions. These findings reveal specific neural circuits recruited during the recovery from emotional arousal and highlight the complex functional dynamics of default mode networks in emotionally salient contexts.
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