Cognitive regulation of emotions is a fundamental prerequisite for intact social functioning which impacts on both well being and psychopathology. The neural underpinnings of this process have been studied intensively in recent years, without, however, a general consensus. We here quantitatively summarize the published literature on cognitive emotion regulation using activation likelihood estimation in fMRI and PET (23 studies/479 subjects). In addition, we assessed the particular functional contribution of identified regions and their interactions using quantitative functional inference and meta-analytic connectivity modeling, respectively. In doing so, we developed a model for the core brain network involved in emotion regulation of emotional reactivity. According to this, the superior temporal gyrus, angular gyrus and (pre) supplementary motor area should be involved in execution of regulation initiated by frontal areas. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may be related to regulation of cognitive processes such as attention, while the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex may not necessarily reflect the regulatory process per se, but signals salience and therefore the need to regulate. We also identified a cluster in the anterior middle cingulate cortex as a region, which is anatomically and functionally in an ideal position to influence behavior and subcortical structures related to affect generation. Hence this area may play a central, integrative role in emotion regulation. By focusing on regions commonly active across multiple studies, this proposed model should provide important a priori information for the assessment of dysregulated emotion regulation in psychiatric disorders.
Keywords: ALE; Angular gyrus; DLPFC; Emotion regulation; MACM; SMA; STG; VLPFC; aMCC.
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