The amygdala plays a central role in processing facial affect, responding to diverse expressions and features shared between expressions. Although speculation exists regarding the nature of relationships between expression- and feature-specific amygdala reactivity, this matter has not been fully explored. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging and principal component analysis (PCA) in a sample of 300 young adults, to investigate patterns related to expression- and feature-specific amygdala reactivity to faces displaying neutral, fearful, angry or surprised expressions. The PCA revealed a two-dimensional correlation structure that distinguished emotional categories. The first principal component separated neutral and surprised from fearful and angry expressions, whereas the second principal component separated neutral and angry from fearful and surprised expressions. This two-dimensional correlation structure of amygdala reactivity may represent specific feature-based cues conserved across discrete expressions. To delineate which feature-based cues characterized this pattern, face stimuli were averaged and then subtracted according to their principal component loadings. The first principal component corresponded to displacement of the eyebrows, whereas the second principal component corresponded to increased exposure of eye whites together with movement of the brow. Our results suggest a convergent representation of facial affect in the amygdala reflecting feature-based processing of discrete expressions.
OBJECTIVE: Research demonstrates a negative impact of sleep disturbance on mood and affect; however, the biological mechanisms mediating these links are poorly understood. Amygdala reactivity to negative stimuli has emerged as one potential pathway. Here, we investigate the influence of self-reported sleep quality on associations between threat-related amygdala reactivity and measures of negative affect and perceived stress. METHODS: Analyses on data from 299 participants (125 men, 50.5\% white, mean [standard deviation] age = 19.6 [1.3] years) who completed the Duke Neurogenetics Study were conducted. Participants completed several self-report measures of negative affect and perceived stress. Threat-related (i.e., angry and fearful facial expressions) amygdala reactivity was assayed using blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Global sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. RESULTS: Amygdala reactivity to fearful facial expressions predicted greater depressive symptoms and higher perceived stress in poor (beta values = 0.18-1.86, p values .05). In sex-specific analyses, men reporting poorer global sleep quality showed a significant association between amygdala reactivity and levels of depression and perceived stress (beta values = 0.29-0.44, p values
Negative mood states after alcohol detoxification may enhance the relapse risk. As recently shown in healthy volunteers, dopamine storage capacity (V d) in the left amygdala was positively correlated with functional activation in the left amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during an emotional task; high functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ACC, a region important for emotion regulation, was associated with low trait anxiety. Based on these findings, we now tested whether detoxified alcohol-dependent patients have a disrupted modulation of the anterior cingulate cortex activation in response to aversive stimuli by amygdala dopamine. Furthermore, we asked whether disrupted functional coupling between amygdala and ACC during aversive processing is related to trait anxiety.We used combined 6-[18F]-fluoro-l-DOPA positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and Spielberger's state-trait anxiety questionnaire (STAI) in 11 male detoxified alcohol-dependent patients compared to 13 matched healthy controls.Unlike healthy controls, patients showed no significant correlation between our PET metric for dopamine storage capacity (FDOPA V d), in left amygdala and activation in left ACC. Moreover, the functional connectivity between amygdala and ACC during processing of aversive emotional stimuli was reduced in patients. Voxel-based morphometry did not reveal any discernible group differences in amygdala volume.These results suggest that dopamine-modulated corticolimbic circuit function is important for responding to emotional information such that apparent functional deficits in this neuromodulatory circuitry may contribute to trait anxiety in alcohol-dependent patients.
Emotion regulation refers to strategies through which individuals influence their experience and expression of emotions. Two typical strategies are reappraisal, a cognitive strategy for reframing the context of an emotional experience, and suppression, a behavioral strategy for inhibiting emotional responses. Functional neuroimaging studies have revealed that regions of the prefrontal cortex modulate amygdala reactivity during both strategies, but relatively greater downregulation of the amygdala occurs during reappraisal. Moreover, these studies demonstrated that engagement of this modulatory circuitry varies as a function of gender. The uncinate fasciculus is a major structural pathway connecting regions of the anterior temporal lobe, including the amygdala to inferior frontal regions, especially the orbitofrontal cortex. The objective of the current study was to map variability in the structural integrity of the uncinate fasciculus onto individual differences in self-reported typical use of reappraisal and suppression. Diffusion tensor imaging was used in 194 young adults to derive regional fractional anisotropy values for the right and left uncinate fasciculus. All participants also completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire. In women but not men, self-reported typical reappraisal use was positively correlated with fractional anisotropy values in a region of the left uncinate fasciculus within the orbitofrontal cortex. In contrast, typical use of suppression was not significantly correlated with fractional anisotropy in any region of the uncinate fasciculus in either men or women. Our data suggest that in women typical reappraisal use is specifically related to the integrity of white matter pathways linking the amygdala and prefrontal cortex.