Positive emotions facilitate cognitive performance, and their absence is associated with burdening psychiatric disorders. However, the brain networks regulating positive emotions are not well understood, especially with regard to engaging oneself in positive-social situations. Here we report convergent evidence from a multimodal approach that includes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain activations, meta-analytic functional characterization, Bayesian model-driven analysis of effective brain connectivity, and personality questionnaires to identify the brain networks mediating the cognitive up-regulation of positive-social emotions. Our comprehensive approach revealed that engaging in positive-social emotion regulation with a self-referential first-person perspective is characterized by dynamic interactions between functionally specialized prefrontal cortex (PFC) areas, the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and the amygdala. Increased top-down connectivity from the superior frontal gyrus (SFG) controls affective valuation in the ventromedial and dorsomedial PFC, self-referential processes in the TPJ, and modulate emotional responses in the amygdala via the ventromedial PFC. Understanding the brain networks engaged in the regulation of positive-social emotions that involve a first-person perspective is important as they are known to constitute an effective strategy in therapeutic settings.
Keywords: Connectivity; Emotion regulation; Meta-analysis; Positive-social emotions; Self-referential.
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