In this study, we examined the impact of goal-directed processing on the response to emotional pictures and the impact of emotional pictures on goal-directed processing. Subjects (N = 22) viewed neutral or emotional pictures in the presence or absence of a demanding cognitive task. Goal-directed processing disrupted the BOLD response to emotional pictures. In particular, the BOLD response within bilateral amygdala and inferior frontal gyrus decreased during concurrent task performance. Moreover, the presence of both positive and negative distractors disrupted task performance, with reaction times increasing for emotional relative to neutral distractors. Moreover, in line with the suggestion of the importance of lateral frontal regions in emotional regulation [Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. D., Cooper, J. C., Robertson, E. R., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J. D., et al. (2004). For better or for worse: neural systems supporting the cognitive down-and up-regulation of negative emotion. NeuroImage, 23(2), 483-499], connectivity analysis revealed positive connectivity between lateral superior frontal cortex and regions of middle frontal cortex previously implicated in emotional suppression [Beauregard, M., Levesque, J., and Bourgouin, P. (2001). Neural correlates of conscious self-regulation of emotion. J. Neurosci., 21 (18), RC165.; Levesque, J., Eugene, F., Joanette, Y., Paquette, V., Mensour, B., Beaudoin, G., et al. (2003). Neural circuitry underlying voluntary suppression of sadness. Biol. Psychiatry, 53 (6), 502-510.; Ohira, H., Nomura, M., Ichikawa, N., Isowa, T., Iidaka, T., Sato, A., et al. (2006). Association of neural and physiological responses during voluntary emotion suppression. NeuroImage, 29 (3), 721-733] and negative connectivity with bilateral amygdala. These data suggest that processes involved in emotional regulation are recruited during task performance in the context of emotional distractors. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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