Amygdala-centred functional connectivity affects daily cortisol concentrations: a putative link with anxiety

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 16;7(1):8313. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08918-7.


The amygdala plays a critical role in emotion. Its functional coupling with the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex extending to a portion of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is implicated in anxiogenesis and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system regulation. However, it remains unclear how amygdala-centred functional connectivity (FC) affects anxiety and cortisol concentrations in everyday life. Here, we investigate the relationship between daily cortisol concentrations (dCOR) and amygdala-centred FC during emotional processing in forty-one healthy humans. FC analyses revealed that higher dCOR predicted strengthened amygdala-centred FC with the hippocampus and cerebellum, but inhibited FC with the supramarginal gyrus and a perigenual part of the ACC (pgACC) when processing fearful faces (vs. neutral faces). Notably, the strength of amygdala-hippocampus FC mediated the positive relationship between cortisol and anxiety, specifically when the effect of amygdala-pgACC FC, a presumptive neural indicator of emotional control, was taken into account. Individuals with diminished connectivity between the amygdala and pgACC during fear-related processing might be more vulnerable to anxiogenesis as it pertains to greater circulating cortisol levels in everyday life. Individual functional patterns of amygdala-hippocampal-pgACC connectivity might provide a key to understand the complicate link between cortisol and anxiety-related behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Anxiety / metabolism*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Connectome*
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone