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. 2019 Apr;133(2):203-211.
doi: 10.1037/bne0000305.

Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex Activity Varies With Individual Differences in the Emotional Response to Psychosocial Stress

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Free PMC article

Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex Activity Varies With Individual Differences in the Emotional Response to Psychosocial Stress

Tyler R Orem et al. Behav Neurosci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Stress elicits a variety of psychophysiological responses that show large interindividual variability. Determining the neural mechanisms that mediate individual differences in the emotional response to stress would provide new insight that would have important implications for understanding stress-related disorders. Therefore, the present study examined individual differences in the relationship between brain activity and the emotional response to stress. In the largest stress study to date, 239 participants completed the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST) while heart rate, skin conductance response (SCR), cortisol, self-reported stress, and blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) signal responses were measured. The relationship between differential responses (heart rate, SCR, cortisol, and self-reported stress) and differential BOLD fMRI data was analyzed. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsomedial PFC, ventromedial PFC, and amygdala activity varied with the behavioral response (i.e., SCR and self-reported stress). These results suggest the PFC and amygdala support processes that are important for the expression and regulation of the emotional response to stress, and that stress-related PFC and amygdala activity underlie interindividual variability in peripheral physiologic measures of the stress response. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure Statement: In the interest of full disclosure we note that DAG is founder and chief Scientific and Strategy Advisor at Salimetrics LLC and Salivabio LLC. The nature of these relationships in managed by the policies of the committees on conflict of interest at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of California at Irvine.

Figures

Fig. (1).
Fig. (1).
Skin conductance response (SCR), heart rate, cortisol, and stress rating to psychosocial stress. Greater SCR (a) heart rate (b) and stress rating (d) were observed during the Stress than Control scan. Higher cortisol levels (c) were observed at baseline than after the Stress scan. Asterisk denotes a significant difference (p < 0.05).
Fig. (2).
Fig. (2).
Amygdala activity and skin conductance response (SCR) to psychosocial stress. Differential activity (Stress-Control) within the right amygdala varied with differential SCR. As amygdala activity increased, SCR increased.
Fig. (3).
Fig. (3).
Relationship between brain activity and self-reported stress. Differential activity (Stress-Control) within the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and cingulate cortex varied with differential stress rating. As activity within the vmPFC (a) and the cingulate cortex (b) increased, differential stress rating increased.

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