Intrinsic functional connectivity underlying successful emotion regulation of angry faces

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2016 Dec;11(12):1980-1991. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw107. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Most of our social interaction is naturally based on emotional information derived from the perception of faces of other people. Negative facial expressions of a counterpart might trigger negative emotions and initiate emotion regulatory efforts to reduce the impact of the received emotional message in a perceiver. Despite the high adaptive value of emotion regulation in social interaction, the neural underpinnings of it are largely unknown. To remedy this, this study investigated individual differences in emotion regulation effectiveness during the reappraisal of angry faces on the underlying functional activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as well as the underlying functional connectivity using resting-state fMRI. Greater emotion regulation ability was associated with greater functional activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, greater functional coupling between activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the amygdala was associated with emotion regulation success. Our findings provide a first link between prefrontal cognitive control and subcortical emotion processing systems during successful emotion regulation in an explicitly social context.

Keywords: amygdala; fMRI; inferior frontal gyrus; neuroimaging; reappraisal; resting-state.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult