The neuropeptide vasopressin has traditionally been associated with vasoconstriction and water reabsorption by the kidneys. However, data from experimental animal studies also implicate vasopressin in social bonding processes. Preliminary work suggests that vasopressin also plays a role in social behaviors in humans. The goal of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate associations among plasma vasopressin and self-reported interpersonal functioning in a sample of married couples. During a 24-hour admission to a hospital-based research unit, 37 couples completed measures of interpersonal functioning and provided blood samples for neuropeptide analyses. Results showed that vasopressin was associated with markers of interpersonal functioning, but not with general psychological distress. Specifically, greater plasma vasopressin levels were related to a larger social network, fewer negative marital interactions, less attachment avoidance, more attachment security, and marginally greater spousal social support. These results indicate that vasopressin is likely implicated in different relationship maintenance processes in humans.
vasopressin; social functioning; couples; social support; marital quality
This task-switching ERP study of 16 young participants investigated whether increased RT slowing on stay trials and faster RTs on switch trials for frequent than infrequent switching are explained by an activation or preparation account. The activation account proposes that task sets are maintained at a higher baseline activation level for frequent switching, necessitating increased task-set updating, as reflected by a larger and/or longer lasting early parietal positivity. The preparation account assumes advance (pre-cue) switch preparation (i.e., task-set reconfiguration), preceding stay and switch trials for frequent switching, as reflected by pre-cue and post-cue late parietal positivities. By and large, the data support the activation account. However, we also found increased, pre-cue task-set updating on frequent stay trials and pre-cue, task-set reconfiguration prior to predictable, frequent switches. These results lead us to propose an extended activation account to explain the effects of switch probability on the executive processes underlying task-switching behavior.
Task switching; switch probability; switch predictability; task-set updating; task-set reconfiguration; cue-locked ERP; response-locked ERP
Few fMRI studies have investigated the brain-behavioral basis of parenting in human fathers. Ten fathers were videotaped and gave salivary testosterone samples while interacting with their 2–4 month old infants, and viewed video clips of their own infant and an unfamiliar age-, ethnicity- and sex-matched other infant during an fMRI protocol. Infant stimuli activated a network of prefrontal and subcortical brain regions. Furthermore, a subset of these regions activated significantly more to own (OWN) than other (OTHER) infants. Finally, neural responses to OWN versus OTHER were linked with paternal sensitivity, paternal reciprocity, and testosterone. In sum, our results provide a novel perspective on the links between brain, behavior, and hormones in fathers.
fathers; testosterone; fMRI; infant
Resting frontal encephalographic (EEG) asymmetry, often conceptualized as a trait marker for depression, is influenced by occasion-specific factors, including time of year and the time of day of the recording session as demonstrated recently (Peterson & Harmon Jones, 2009). The current study examined the influence of seasonal and chronological variables on resting frontal asymmetry, and also assessed whether different reference montages or surface transformations were equally susceptible to these influences. In a direct replication attempt, contrary to previous findings, no simple time of year by time of day interaction was found. Time awake at recording, however, was an important moderating variable of the relationship between photoperiod and time of day. EEG asymmetry scores based on current-source density (CSD) transformed data, however, appeared less vulnerable to these influences, providing further evidence to suggest that the CSD transform may be advantageous for examining stable trait estimates of frontal EEG asymmetry.
Respiratory sensory gating is evidenced by decreased amplitudes of the respiratory-related evoked poten-Received 24 September 2011 tials (RREP) N1 peak for the second (S2) compared to the first occlusion (S1) when two paired occlusions Accepted 2 July 2012 are presented with a 500-millisecond (ms) inter-stimulus-interval during one inspiration. Because anxiety is prevalent in respiratory diseases and associated with altered respiratory perception, we tested whether anxiety can modulate individuals’ respiratory neural gating mechanism.
By using high-density EEG, RREPs were measured in a paired inspiratory occlusion paradigm in 11 low and 10 higher anxious individuals with normal lung function.
The N1 peak gating S2/S1 ratio and the N1 S2 amplitudes were greater in higher compared to low anxious individuals (p’s < 0.05). In addition, higher anxiety levels were correlated with greater S2/S1 ratios (r = 0.54, p < 0.05) and S2 amplitudes (r = −0.49, p < 0.05).
The results demonstrate that anxiety is associated with reduced respiratory sensory gating which might underlie altered respiratory symptom perception in anxious individuals.
Respiratory perception; Anxiety; Affective state; Mechanosensation; RREP
Externalizing traits are characterized by exaggerated emotional (e.g., frustration, anger) and behavioral (e.g., drug seeking, reactive aggression) reactions to motivationally-significant stimuli. Explanations for this exaggerated reactivity emphasize attention, executive function, and affective processes, but the associations among these processes is rarely investigated. To examine these interactions, we measure fear potentiated startle (FPS; Experiment 1) and neural activation (Experiment 2) in an instructed fear paradigm that manipulates attentional focus, demands on executive functioning, and emotion. In both studies, exaggerated emotional reactivity associated with externalizing was specific to conditions that focused attention on threat information and placed minimal demands on executive functioning. Results suggest that a crucial cognition-emotion interaction affecting externalizing is the over-prioritization and over-allocation of attention to motivationally-significant information, which in turn, may impair executive and affective regulation.
Externalizing; Fear Potentiated Startle; fMRI; Cognition-Emotion Interaction
Pictures of emotional facial expressions or natural scenes are often used as cues in emotion research. We examined the extent to which these different stimuli engage emotion and attention, and whether the presence of social anxiety symptoms influences responding to facial cues. Sixty participants reporting high or low social anxiety viewed pictures of angry, neutral, and happy faces, as well as violent, neutral, and erotic scenes, while skin conductance and event-related potentials were recorded. Acoustic startle probes were presented throughout picture viewing, and blink magnitude, probe P3 and reaction time to the startle probe also were measured. Results indicated that viewing emotional scenes prompted strong reactions in autonomic, central, and reflex measures, whereas pictures of faces were generally weak elicitors of measurable emotional response. However, higher social anxiety was associated with modest electrodermal changes when viewing angry faces and mild startle potentiation when viewing either angry or smiling faces, compared to neutral. Taken together, pictures of facial expressions do not strongly engage fundamental affective reactions, but these cues appeared to be effective in distinguishing between high and low social anxiety participants, supporting their use in anxiety research.
Visual neurons are known to synchronize their firing with stimuli that flicker at a constant rate (e.g., 12 Hz). These so-called visual steady-state responses (VSSR) are a well-studied phenomenon, yet the underlying mechanisms are widely disagreed upon. Furthermore, there is limited evidence that visual neurons may simultaneously synchronize at harmonics of the stimulation frequency. We utilized magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine synchronization at harmonics of the visual stimulation frequency (18 Hz). MEG data were analyzed for event-related-synchronization (ERS) at the fundamental frequency, 36, 54, and 72 Hz. We found strong ERS in all bands. Only 31% of participants showed maximum entrainment at the fundamental; others showed stronger entrainment at either 36 or 54 Hz. The cortical foci of these responses indicated that the harmonics involved cortices that were partially distinct from the fundamental. These findings suggest that spatially-overlapping subpopulations of neurons are simultaneously entrained at different harmonics of the stimulus frequency.
steady-state response; SSR; event-related synchronization; ERS; occipital; cortex
Here we examine the effects of both self-reported and independent observer-reported environmental risk indices, the serotonin transporter gene promoter (5HTTLPR) polymorphism, and their interaction on self-esteem. This trait was assessed during early and mid adolescence (mean age = 14 and 16.5, respectively) and young adulthood (mean age = 21.8) in a prospective cohort of 1214 unrelated participants in the Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Using structural equation modeling we identified a gene–environment (G × E) interaction using observer-report but not self-report measures of environmental stress exposure during adolescence: 5HTTLPR genotype and observer-reports of home and neighborhood quality (HNQ) during adolescence interacted to predict self-esteem levels in young adulthood (p < .004). Carriers of the s allele who lived in poor HNQ conditions during adolescence reported lower self-esteem in young adulthood than those with a good HNQ during adolescence. In contrast, among individuals with the l/l genotype, adolescent HNQ did not predict adulthood self-esteem. Genes may moderate the effect of adolescent environmental conditions on adulthood self-esteem.
Adolescents; Genetic polymorphism; Socioeconomic status; Serotonin; Self-esteem
Poor sleep is often independently associated with greater pain sensitivity and dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (e.g., greater basal cortisol and exaggerated stress-induced cortisol reactivity). However, the interactions among sleep, pain, and the HPA axis have not been adequately evaluated. In this study, 40 healthy adults provided self-report regarding perceived sleep quality over the past month prior to completion of an acute noxious physical stressor (i.e., cold pressor task; CPT). Following the CPT, they reported on the severity of pain experienced. Salivary cortisol was sampled before, immediately following, and during recovery from CPT. Using bootstrapped confidence intervals with a bias correction, results showed that poor sleep quality was significantly associated with greater reports of CPT-induced pain severity and greater cortisol reactivity (i.e., increase from baseline). Furthermore, greater cortisol reactivity to the CPT was found to significantly mediate the relationship between poor sleep and pain severity.
sleep quality; HPA axis; pain; cortisol; reactivity
•Brain activity markers of memory retrieval are used in tests of criminal guilt.•These tests assume neural markers of memory are outside voluntary control.•We tested whether participants could suppress memory-related brain activity.•Suppression was highly successful, significantly reducing guilt detection.•Our results indicate that a core assumption of memory detection tests is unjustified.
Brain-activity markers of guilty knowledge have been promoted as accurate and reliable measures for establishing criminal culpability. Tests based on these markers interpret the presence or absence of memory-related neural activity as diagnostic of whether or not incriminating information is stored in a suspect's brain. This conclusion critically relies on the untested assumption that reminders of a crime uncontrollably elicit memory-related brain activity. However, recent research indicates that, in some circumstances, humans can control whether they remember a previous experience by intentionally suppressing retrieval. We examined whether people could use retrieval suppression to conceal neural evidence of incriminating memories as indexed by Event-Related Potentials (ERPs). When people were motivated to suppress crime retrieval, their memory-related ERP effects were significantly decreased, allowing guilty individuals to evade detection. Our findings indicate that brain measures of guilty knowledge may be under criminals’ intentional control and place limits on their use in legal settings.
Episodic retrieval; Event-Related Potentials; Memory suppression; Guilty knowledge; Cognitive control
•We search for objective sleep quality measures.•We model sleep as a continuous process represented by a set of sleep microstates.•We correlate parameters of the sleep model with latent factors of daytime behavioral and life-quality measures.•We report a set of sleep parameters significantly correlating with daytime factors.
The main goal of this study was to investigate to what extent polysomnographic (PSG) recordings of nocturnal human sleep can provide information about sleep quality in terms of correlation with a set of daytime measures. These measures were designed with the aim of comprising selected quality of night sleep and consist of subjective sleep quality ratings, neuropsychological tests and physiological parameters. First, a factor analysis model was applied to the large number of daytime measures of sleep quality in order to detect their latent structure. Secondly, in addition to the gold standard sleep staging method to arrive at variables about sleep architecture from PSG, we applied a recently developed continuous sleep representation by considering the probabilistic sleep model (PSM) describing the microstructure of sleep. Significant correlations between sleep architecture and daytime variables of sleep quality were found. Both the factor analysis and the PSM helped maximize the information about this relationship.
Subjective and objective sleep indices; Factor analysis; Continuous probabilistic sleep model
Response inhibition is considered a core dimension in alcoholism and its co-existing disorders. The major objective of this study is to compare the magnitude and spatial distribution of ERP components during response activation and inhibition in alcoholics (N = 30) and normal controls (N = 30) using a visual Go/No-Go task. The results indicate that alcoholics manifest a decreased P3(00) amplitude during Go as well as No-Go conditions. The difference between Go and No-Go processing was more evident in controls than in alcoholics. The topography of current source density in alcoholics during the P3 response was found to be very different from that of normals, suggesting that alcoholics perhaps activated inappropriate brain circuitry during cognitive processing. The significantly reduced No-Go P3 along with the relatively less anteriorized CSD topography during No-Go condition suggests poor inhibitory control in alcoholics. It is proposed that the No-Go P3, the electrophysiological signature of response inhibition, can be considered as an endophenotypic marker in alcoholism.
Event-related potentials; P3; Go/No-Go; Alcoholism; Disinhibitory disorders; Inhibitory control; Endophenotype
We studied Error-Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Positivity (Pe) during a discrimination task in 319 unmedicated children divided into subtypes of ADHD (Not-ADHD/ Inattentive/ Combined), Learning Disorder (Not-LD/Reading/Math/Reading+Math), and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Response-locked ERPs contained a frontocentral ERN and posterior Pe. Error-related Negativity and Positivity exhibited larger amplitude and later latency than corresponding waves for correct responses matched on reaction time. ADHD did not affect performance on the task. The ADHD/Combined sample exceeded controls in ERN amplitude, perhaps reflecting patients’ adaptive monitoring efforts. Compared with controls, subjects with Reading Disorder and Reading+Math Disorder performed worse on the task and had marginally more negative Correct-Related Negativities. In contrast, Pe/Pc was smaller in children with Reading+Math Disorder than among subjects with Reading Disorder and Not-LD participants; this nonspecific finding is not attributable to error processing. The results reflect anomalies in error processing in these disorders but further research is needed to address inconsistencies in the literature.
Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Learning Disorders; Error monitoring; Error-related negativity; Event-related potentials
The Child Behavior Checklist Dysregulation Profile (DP) in youth has been shown to be a predictor of psychopathology later in life. We examined the activity of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis in youth with remitted, new, persistent, and no DP. Data from 489 youth (47% boys) participating in a Dutch longitudinal general population study were included (Wave 1 mean age=11.5, Wave 2=14.2). Wave 2 diurnal cortisol patterns and levels in response to a laboratory stress paradigm were compared in youth with DP at Wave 1 only, Wave 2 only, both Waves, and neither Wave. Youth with the DP at Wave 2 only or at both time points showed blunted cortisol responses to stress relative to the other two groups. There were no group or sex differences in diurnal cortisol activity. More research is needed to determine how the association between DP symptoms and HPA axis functioning changes over time.
Dysregulation profile; hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis; cortisol; stress
Although one of the main characteristics of psychopaths is a deficit in emotion, it is unknown whether they show a fundamental impairment in appropriately recognizing their own body sensations during an emotion-inducing task.
Skin conductance and heart rate were recorded in 138 males during a social stressor together with subjective reports of body sensations. Psychopathic traits were assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R) 2nd edition (Hare, 2003).
Nonpsychopathic controls who reported higher body sensations showed higher heart rate reactivity, but this verbal-autonomic consistency was not found in psychopathic individuals. This mind-body disconnection is particularly associated with the interpersonal-affective factor of psychopathy.
Findings are the first to document this body sensations– autonomic mismatch in psychopaths, and suggest that somatic aphasia the inaccurate identification and recognition of one‘s own somatic states may partly underlie the interpersonal-affective features of psychopaths.
somatic aphasia; body sensation; cardiovascular; electrodermal; psychopathy; somatic marker hypothesis
Using motivational intensity theory as a framework, three experiments examined how implicit self-focus (manipulated with masked first-name priming) and explicit self-focus (manipulated with a large mirror) influence effort-related cardiovascular activity, particularly systolic blood pressure reactivity. Theories of self-focused attention suggest that both implicit and explicit self-focus bring about self-evaluation and thus make meeting a goal more important. For a “do your best” task of unfixed difficulty, implicit and explicit self-focus both increased effort (Experiment 1) compared to a control condition. For a task that varied in difficulty, implicit and explicit self-focus promoted more effort as the task became increasingly hard (Experiments 2 and 3). Taken together, the findings suggest that implicit and explicit self-processes share a similar motivational architecture. The discussion explores the value of integrating motivational intensity theory with self-awareness theory and considers the emerging interest in implicit aspects of effort regulation.
Effort; Cardiovascular reactivity; Self-focused attention; Implicit priming; Motivational intensity; Active coping
•Pain-related evoked potentials were similarly influenced by emotional priming.•The amplitude of both N2 and P2 decreased monotonically from viewing neutral to pleasant to unpleasant pictures.•Cortical processing of trigeminal nociception is modulated by emotion.•Reductions in pain-related evoked potentials may be explained by the ability of affective pictures to grab attention.
To investigate whether cortical processing of trigeminal nociception is modulated by emotion, the N2 and P2 components of the pain-related evoked potential (PREP) were recorded in response to noxious stimulation of the supraorbital nerve while participants viewed neutral, pleasant and unpleasant pictures. The nerve was stimulated at 125% of pain threshold via a nociceptive-specific concentric electrode to selectively activate A-delta pain fibres. The N2 and P2 pain-related evoked potentials were similarly influenced by emotional priming: the amplitude of both potentials decreased monotonically from viewing neutral to pleasant to unpleasant pictures. These findings show that cortical processing of trigeminal nociception is modulated by emotion. We explain our findings in terms of the effects of picture viewing on attention.
Attention; Emotion; Nociception
•Dual-process models of psychopathy postulate two underlying dimensions.•Fearless Dominance was associated with altered feedback processing.•Feedback-related negativity amplitudes were reduced.•Self-Centered Impulsivity was unrelated to feedback processing.•These findings provide further evidence for dual-process models of psychopathy.
Dual-process models of psychopathy postulate two etiologically relevant processes. Their involvement in feedback processing and its neural correlates has not been investigated so far. Multi-channel EEG was collected while healthy female volunteers performed a time-estimation task and received negative or positive feedback in form of signs or emotional faces. The affective-interpersonal factor Fearless Dominance, but not Self-Centered Impulsivity, was associated with reduced feedback-related negativity (FRN) amplitudes. This neural dissociation extends previous findings on the impact of psychopathy on feedback processing and further highlights the importance of distinguishing psychopathic traits and extending previous (neuroscientific) models of psychopathy.
Psychopathy; Fearless Dominance; Dual-process models; Feedback processing; Event-related potentials; ERPs; sLORETA; FRN; ACC; RCZa
The current study was designed to examine event-related brain potentials and autonomic responses to pictures indicating threat, relative to non-threat, and acoustic startle reflexes in traumatized youth diagnosed with PTSD, relative to non-exposed children, before and after receiving psychotherapy. Children in the control group were individually yoked and demographically matched to the PTSD group. Both groups displayed enhanced late positive potentials and more prolonged heart rate deceleration to pictures indicating threat, relative to non-threat, and larger skin conductance responses to pictures indicating threat, relative to non-threat, at time one. At time two, controls appeared to habituate, as reflected by an overall attenuated skin conductance response, whereas the PTSD group showed little change. Across time points the PTSD group exhibited greater acoustic startle reflexes than the control group. Psychotherapy and symptom reduction was not associated with electrophysiology. Drawing from the adult literature, this study was an attempt to address the scarcity of research examining electrophysiological irregularities in childhood PTSD. The overall results suggest that children and adolescents allocate more attention to threat-related stimuli regardless of PTSD status, and exaggerated startle and a possible failure to habituate skin conductance responses to threat-related stimuli in youth with versus without PTSD.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Electrophysiology; Trauma-Exposure; Autonomic; Event-Related Brain Potential; Acoustic Startle
Hippocampus volume decreases and verbal memory deficits have been reported in bipolar disorder (BD) as independent observations. We investigated potential associations between these deficits in subjects with BD. Hippocampus volumes were measured on magnetic resonance images of 31 subjects with BD and 32 healthy comparison (HC) subjects. The California Verbal Learning Test-Second Edition (CVLT) assessed verbal memory function in these subjects. Compared to the HC group, the BD group showed both significantly smaller hippocampus volumes and impaired performance on CVLT tests of immediate, short delay and long delay cued and free recall. Further, smaller hippocampus volume correlated with impaired performance in BD. Post-hoc analyses revealed a trend towards improved memory in BD subjects taking antidepressant medications. These results support associations between morphological changes in hippocampus structure in BD and verbal memory impairment. They provide preliminary evidence pharmacotherapy may reverse hippocampus-related memory deficits.
CVLT; Memory; Hippocampus; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Bipolar Disorder
Animal research indicates that oxytocin is involved in social behavior, stress regulation, and positive physiologic adaptation. This study examines whether oxytocin enhances adaptive responses to social stress and compares effects between men and women.
Hypotheses were tested with a placebo-controlled, double-blind experiment. Social stress was induced. Changes in cardiovascular reactivity, affect, and behavior were assessed.
Participants given oxytocin, relative to placebo, responded to social stress with a challenge orientation characterized by a benign pattern of cardiovascular reactivity. Gender differences emerged. Men given oxytocin reported less negative affect and had greater vagal rebound, while women given oxytocin reported more anger and had better math performance following social stress.
Findings indicate oxytocin stimulates an approach-oriented cardiovascular profile during social stress, suggesting mechanisms by which oxytocin might improve physical health. However, before considering oxytocin as therapeutic or uniformly enhancing health, greater understanding of possible gender differences in effects is needed.
social stress; oxytocin; gender; cardiovascular; experiment; health
Psychophysiological and neuroscience studies of emotional processing undertaken by investigators at the University of Florida Laboratory of the Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention (CSEA) are reviewed, with a focus on reflex reactions, neural structures and functional circuits that mediate emotional expression. The theoretical view shared among the investigators is that expressed emotions are founded on motivational circuits in the brain that developed early in evolutionary history to ensure the survival of individuals and their progeny. These circuits react to appetitive and aversive environmental and memorial cues, mediating appetitive and defensive reflexes that tune sensory systems and mobilize the organism for action and underly negative and positive affects. The research reviewed here assesses the reflex physiology of emotion, both autonomic and somatic, studying affects evoked in picture perception, memory imagery, and in the context of tangible reward and punishment, and using the electroencephalograph (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), explores the brain’s motivational circuits that determine human emotion.
The role of sleep in the relations between early-life trauma and the development of adverse psychological trajectories is relatively unknown and was the primary aim of the present study. Military veterans were evaluated for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, combat exposure, trauma history, sleep quality, disruptive nocturnal behaviors, and a subsample completed overnight polysomnography that yielded objectively measured sleep parameters. When relevant variables were controlled, increased earlier-life traumatic event exposure was associated with increased rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMs) fragmentation, and increased REMs fragmentation was associated with increased later-life disruptive nocturnal behaviors. REMs fragmentation carried an indirect relation between earlier-life trauma and later-life disruptive nocturnal behaviors. Objectively measured sleep parameters were used to describe REMs fragmentation physiology. The current findings elucidate the important role that earlier-life trauma exposure may have in the development of REM sleep physiology, and how this altered sleep physiology may have dynamic influences on subsequent posttraumatic stress symptoms in adulthood.
Sleep; Development; Translational; Trauma; Fear; PTSD; Combat
Three frequently used RSA metrics are investigated to document violations of assumptions for parametric analyses, moderation by respiration, influences of nonstationarity, and sensitivity to vagal blockade. Although all metrics are highly correlated, new findings illustrate that the metrics are noticeably different on the above dimensions. Only one method conforms to the assumptions for parametric analyses, is not moderated by respiration, is not influenced by nonstationarity, and reliably generates stronger effect sizes. Moreover, this method is also the most sensitive to vagal blockade. Specific features of this method may provide insights into improving the statistical characteristics of other commonly used RSA metrics. These data provide the evidence to question, based on statistical grounds, published reports using particular metrics of RSA.
heart rate variability; respiratory sinus arrhythmia; heart rate; respiration; autonomic nervous system