Can we reliably measure emotion regulation with fMRI?

  • Given the importance of emotion regulation (ER) in affective disorders, it becomes a growing priority to identify brain biomarkers of disease risk and treatment response.

  • However, the ability to identify biomarkers is fundamentally limited by measurement reliability.

  • Measuring brain activity using task-based fMRI is a major focus of biomarker development.

  • Here, we aimed to systematically evaluate the test-retest reliability of task-based fMRI activity within the ER network.

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RS-FMRI functional connectivity of emotion regulation networks

  • Emotion regulation (ER) is the ability to alter the emotional impact of a stimulus or situation. Although the neural underpinnings of ER have been investigated in numerous fMRI studies, the stability and reliability of the underlying networks remains unknown.

  • In this study we tested the reliability of resting-state fMRI functional connectivity in four networks of emotion generation and regulation identified in a recent meta-analytic study.

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Meta-analytic brain networks of emotion regulation

  • Recent models suggest that cognitive emotion regulation is based upon neural systems implicated in generation and regulation of emotional responses as well as systems with an undefined or intermediary role.

We applied meta-analytic clustering of emotion regulation studies to:

  • group emotion regulation studies based on similar brain activation patterns

  • characterize the cognitive and affective processes associated with each of the resulting networks

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Are amygdala and PFC connected during emotion regulation?

  • Single studies usually provide limited insight into the function of specific brain regions.

  • Thus, to better understand the role of the amygdala in emotion regulation, we performed coordinate-based meta-analysis on studies of emotion regulation related connectivity of the amygdala which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis.

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Effect of emotion regulation on food choices

  • Many people eat specific foods to distract themselves from, or cope with, negative affect such as stress, anxiety, or fear.

  • Most such “comfort” foods are indulgent, sweet, carbohydrate- and fat-rich and therefore provide immediate satisfaction.

  • These dietary choices are difficult to control and can have severe consequences for people’s health.

  • In this study, we tested whether emotion regulation could be a potential countermeasure.

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Effect of arousal on emotion regulation

  • Emotional experiences and their regulation differ widely across individuals, which might modulate activation in the emotion regulation (ER) network

  • ER success might vary as a function of perceived emotional intensity

  • We used fMRI and whole-brain parametric regression analyses to examine how variability of stimulus features (valence and arousal) and ER ability (emotional state ratings, ESR) impact the ER network

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©2020 Affective Neuro Lab.