Distinct contributions of the dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex during emotion regulation

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048107. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


The lateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices have both been implicated in emotion regulation, but their distinct roles in regulation of negative emotion remain poorly understood. To address this issue we enrolled 58 participants in an fMRI study in which participants were instructed to reappraise both negative and neutral stimuli. This design allowed us to separately study activations reflecting cognitive processes associated with reappraisal in general and activations specifically related to reappraisal of negative emotion. Our results confirmed that both the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) contribute to emotion regulation through reappraisal. However, activity in the DLPFC was related to reappraisal independently of whether negative or neutral stimuli were reappraised, whereas the lateral OFC was uniquely related to reappraisal of negative stimuli. We suggest that relative to the lateral OFC, the DLPFC serves a more general role in emotion regulation, perhaps by reflecting the cognitive demand that is inherent to the regulation task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This work was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council (to A.Ö., M.S., M.I.), the Nordic Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS, to A.Ö.), the National Institute of Mental Health, Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention (to A.Ö.), the Barbro and Bernard Osher Foundation (M.I.), The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) and The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (A.Ö., M.I.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.