Does the amygdala response correlate with the personality trait 'harm avoidance' while evaluating emotional stimuli explicitly?

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Background: The affective personality trait 'harm avoidance' (HA) from Cloninger's psychobiological personality model determines how an individual deals with emotional stimuli. Emotional stimuli are processed by a neural network that include the left and right amygdalae as important key nodes. Explicit, implicit and passive processing of affective stimuli are known to activate the amygdalae differently reflecting differences in attention, level of detailed analysis of the stimuli and the cognitive control needed to perform the required task. Previous studies revealed that implicit processing or passive viewing of affective stimuli, induce a left amygdala response that correlates with HA. In this new study we have tried to extend these findings to the situation in which the subjects were required to explicitly process emotional stimuli.Methods: A group of healthy female participants was asked to rate the valence of positive and negative stimuli while undergoing fMRI. Afterwards the neural responses of the participants to the positive and to the negative stimuli were separately correlated to their HA scores and compared between the low and high HA participants.Results: Both analyses revealed increased neural activity in the left laterobasal (LB) amygdala of the high HA participants while they were rating the positive and the negative stimuli.Conclusions: Our results indicate that the left amygdala response to explicit processing of affective stimuli does correlate with HA. © 2014 Van Schuerbeek et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Van Schuerbeek, P., Baeken, C., Luypaert, R., De Raedt, R., & De Mey, J. (2014). Does the amygdala response correlate with the personality trait “harm avoidance” while evaluating emotional stimuli explicitly? Behavioral and Brain Functions, 10(1).

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