Dynamic functional connectivity and individual differences in emotions during social stress

Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 Dec;38(12):6185-6205. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23821. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Exposure to acute stress induces multiple emotional responses, each with their own unique temporal dynamics. Dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) measures the temporal variability of network synchrony and captures individual differences in network neurodynamics. This study investigated the relationship between dFC and individual differences in emotions induced by an acute psychosocial stressor. Sixteen healthy adult women underwent fMRI scanning during a social evaluative threat (SET) task, and retrospectively completed questionnaires that assessed individual differences in subjectively experienced positive and negative emotions about stress and stress relief during the task. Group dFC was decomposed with parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) into 10 components, each with a temporal signature, spatial network of functionally connected regions, and vector of participant loadings that captures individual differences in dFC. Participant loadings of two networks were positively correlated with stress-related emotions, indicating the existence of networks for positive and negative emotions. The emotion-related networks involved the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, anterior insula, and amygdala, among other distributed brain regions, and time signatures for these emotion-related networks were uncorrelated. These findings demonstrate that individual differences in stress-induced positive and negative emotions are each uniquely associated with large-scale brain networks, and suggest that dFC is a mechanism that generates individual differences in the emotional components of the stress response. Hum Brain Mapp 38:6185-6205, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: functional connectivity; negative affect; positive affect; stress; synchronization; temporal dynamics; tensor factorization; ventral PFC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Judgment
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Report
  • Social Perception*
  • Speech / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*