Scientists have traditionally assumed that different kinds of mental states (e.g., fear, disgust, love, memory, planning, concentration, etc.) correspond to different psychological faculties that have domain-specific correlates in the brain. Yet, growing evidence points to the constructionist hypothesis that mental states emerge from the combination of domain-general psychological processes that map to large-scale distributed brain networks. In this paper, we report a novel study testing a constructionist model of the mind in which participants generated three kinds of mental states (emotions, body feelings, or thoughts) while we measured activity within large-scale distributed brain networks using fMRI. We examined the similarity and differences in the pattern of network activity across these three classes of mental states. Consistent with a constructionist hypothesis, a combination of large-scale distributed networks contributed to emotions, thoughts, and body feelings, although these mental states differed in the relative contribution of those networks. Implications for a constructionist functional architecture of diverse mental states are discussed.
constructionist; emotion; thought; body feelings; intrinsic networks
Studies of the effect of affect on perception often show consistent directional effects of a person’s affective state on perception. Unpleasant emotions have been associated with a “locally focused” style of stimulus evaluation, and positive emotions with a “globally focused” style. Typically, however, studies of affect and perception have not been conducted under the conditions of perceptual uncertainty and behavioral risk inherent to perceptual judgments outside the laboratory. We investigated the influence of perceivers’ experience affect (valence and arousal) on the utility of social threat perception by combining signal detection theory and behavioral economics. We created three perceptual decision environments that systematically differed with respect to factors that underlie uncertainty and risk: the base rate of threat, the costs of incorrect identification threat, and the perceptual similarity of threats and non-threats. We found that no single affective state yielded the best performance on the threat perception task across the three environments. Unpleasant valence promoted calibration of response bias to base rate and costs, high arousal promoted calibration of perceptual sensitivity to perceptual similarity, and low arousal was associated with an optimal adjustment of bias to sensitivity. However, the strength of these associations was conditional upon the difficulty of attaining optimal bias and high sensitivity, such that the effect of the perceiver’s affective state on perception differed with the cause and/or level of uncertainty and risk.
threat perception; valence; arousal; signal detection theory; utility
The measurement of the volume of the human amygdala in vivo has received increasing attention over the past decade, but existing methods face several challenges. First, due to the amorphous appearance of the amygdala and the difficulties in interpreting its boundaries, it is common for protocols to omit sizable sections of the rostral and dorsal regions of the amygdala comprising parts of the basolateral complex (BL) and central nucleus (Ce), respectively. Second, segmentation of the amgydaloid complex into separate subdivisions is challenging due to the resolution of routinely acquired images and the lack of standard protocols. Recent advances in technology have made ultra-high resolution MR images available, and in this study we provide a detailed segmentation protocol for manually tracing the whole amygdala that incorporates a greater portion of the rostral and dorsal sections with techniques illustrated in detail to maximize reproducibility. In addition, we propose a geometrically-based protocol for segmenting the amygdala into four component subregions of interest (sROI), which correspond largely to amygdala subnuclear divisions: the BL sROI, centromedial (CM) sROI, basomedial (BM) sROI, and the amygdaloid cortical (ACo) sROI. We performed an intra- and inter-rater reliability study of our methods in 10 adults (5 young adults and 5 older adults). The results indicate that both protocols can be implemented with a high degree of reliability (the majority of intra-rater and inter-rater correlations were >0.81). This protocol should aid further research into the alterations in amygdala anatomy, connectivity, and function that accompany normal aging and pathology associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.
Amygdala; Segmentation; MRI; Subnuclei; Parcellation
We investigated whether interferon-inducible genes (IFIGs) with known anti–human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity in vitro were associated with in vivo virological response in HIV infection. Nine untreated HIV-1–infected volunteers were treated for 12 weeks with peginterferon alfa-2a. A subset of IFIGs (23 of 47) increased compared with baseline through 6 weeks beyond therapy, and 10 of the 23 IFIGs significantly inversely correlated (r = −0.7; P < .05) with virological response. The strength of peginterferon alfa-2a–induced IFIG response significantly correlated with declines in HIV load during treatment (r2 = 0.87, p = .003). This study links HIV virological response to a specific IFIG subset, a potential prognostic indicator in peginterferon alfa-2a–treated patients with HIV infection.
Meta-analytic summaries of neuroimaging studies point to at least two major functional-anatomic subdivisions within the anterior insula that contribute to the detection and processing of salient information: a dorsal region that is routinely active during attention tasks and a ventral region that is routinely active during affective experience. In two independent samples of cognitively normal human adults, we used intrinsic functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate that the right dorsal and right ventral anterior insula are nodes in separable large-scale functional networks. Furthermore, stronger intrinsic connectivity within the right dorsal anterior insula network was associated with better performance on a task involving attention and processing speed whereas stronger connectivity within the right ventral anterior insula network was associated with more intense affective experience. These results support the hypothesis that the identification and manipulation of salient information is subserved by at least two brain networks anchored in the right anterior insula that exhibit distinct large-scale topography and dissociable behavioral correlates.
dorsal anterior insula; ventral anterior insula; intrinsic functional connectivity; individual differences; attention; processing speed; affective experience
In this article, we review the differences between momentary, retrospective, and trait self-report techniques and discuss the unique role that ambulatory reports of momentary experience play in psychosomatic medicine. Following a brief historical review of self-report techniques, we discuss the latest perspective which links ambulatory self-reports to a qualitatively different conscious self – the ‘experiencing self’– which is functionally and neuroanatomically different from the ‘remembering’ and ‘believing’ selves measured through retrospective and trait questionnaires. The experiencing self functions to navigate current environments and is relatively more tied to the salience network and corporeal information from the body that regulates autonomic processes. As evidence, we review research showing that experiences measured through ambulatory assessment have stronger associations with cardiovascular reactivity, cortisol response, immune system function, and threat/reward biomarkers compared to memories or beliefs. By contrast, memories and beliefs play important roles in decision making and long-term planning, but they are less tied to bodily processes and more tied to default/long-term memory networks, which minimizes their sensitivity for certain research questions. We conclude with specific recommendations for using self-report questionnaires in psychosomatic medicine and suggest that intensive ambulatory assessment of experiences may provide greater sensitivity for connecting psychological with biological processes.
ecological momentary assessment; PANAS; emotion; memory bias; stress; questionnaires
Using resting-state functional MRI data from two independent samples of healthy adults, we parsed the amygdala’s intrinsic connectivity into three partially-distinct large-scale networks that strongly resemble the known anatomical organization of amygdala connectivity in rodents and monkeys. Moreover, in a third independent sample, we discovered that people who fostered and maintained larger and more complex social networks not only had larger amygdala volumes, but also amygdalae with stronger intrinsic connectivity within two of these networks, one putatively subserving perceptual abilities and one subserving affiliative behaviors. Our findings were anatomically specific to amygdalar circuitry in that individual differences in social network size and complexity could not be explained by the strength of intrinsic connectivity between nodes within two networks that do not typically involve the amygdala (i.e., the mentalizing and mirror networks), and were behaviorally specific in that amygdala connectivity did not correlate with other self-report measures of sociality.
Despite numerous studies on the role of medial temporal lobe structures in Alzheimer's disease (AD), the magnitude and clinical significance of amygdala atrophy has been relatively sparsely investigated. In this study we compared the level of amygdala atrophy to that of the hippocampus in very mild and mild AD subjects in two large samples (Sample 1 n=90; Sample 2 n=174). Using a series of linear regression analyses, we investigated whether amygdala atrophy is related to global cognitive functioning (Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes: CDR-SB; Mini Mental State Examination: MMSE) and neuropsychiatric status. Results indicated that amygdala atrophy was comparable to hippocampal atrophy in both samples. MMSE and CDR-SB were strongly related to amygdala atrophy, with amygdala atrophy predicting MMSE scores as well as hippocampal atrophy, but predicting CDR-SB scores less robustly. Amygdala atrophy was related to aberrant motor behavior, with potential relationships to anxiety and irritability. These results suggest that the magnitude of amygdala atrophy is comparable to that of the hippocampus in the earliest clinical stages of AD, and is related to global illness severity. There also appear to be specific relationships between the level of amygdala atrophy and neuropsychiatric symptoms that deserve further investigation.
Hippocampus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuropsychiatric symptoms
Influenza infection may be more serious in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals, therefore, vaccination against seasonal and pandemic strains is highly advised. Seasonal influenza vaccines have had no significant negative effects in well controlled HIV infection, but the impact of adjuvanted pandemic A/California/07/2009 H1N1 influenza hemaglutinin (HA) vaccine, which was used for the first time in the Canadian population as an authorized vaccine in autumn 2009, has not been extensively studied.
Assess vaccine-related effects on CD4+ T cell counts and humoral responses to the vaccine in individuals attending the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial HIV clinic.
A single dose of ArepanrixTM split vaccine including 3.75 μg A/California/07/2009 H1N1 HA antigen and ASO3 adjuvant was administered to 81 HIV-infected individuals by intramuscular injection. Plasma samples from shortly before, and 1–5 months after vaccination were collected from 80/81 individuals to assess humoral anti-H1N1 HA responses using a sensitive microbead-based array assay. Data on CD4+ T cell counts, plasma viral load, antiretroviral therapy and patient age were collected from clinical records of 81 individuals.
Overall, 36/80 responded to vaccination either by seroconversion to H1N1 HA or with a clear increase in anti-H1N1 HA antibody levels. Approximately 1/3 (28/80) had pre-existing anti-H1N1 HA antibodies and were more likely to respond to vaccination (22/28). Responders had higher baseline CD4+ T cell counts and responders without pre-existing antibodies against H1N1 HA were younger than either non-responders or responders with pre-existing antibodies. Compared to changes in their CD4+ T cell counts observed over a similar time period one year later, vaccine recipients displayed a minor, transient fall in CD4+ T cell numbers, which was greater amongst responders.
We observed low response rates to the 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine among HIV-infected individuals without pre-existing antibodies against H1N1 HA and a minor transient fall in CD4+ T cell numbers, which was accentuated in responders. A single injection of the ArepanrixTM pandemic A/California/07/2009 H1N1 HA split vaccine may be insufficient to induce protective immunity in HIV-infected individuals without pre-existing anti-H1N1 HA responses.
HIV; influenza; pandemic; A/California/07/2009 H1N1 HA antigen; AS03 oil in water adjuvant; inflammation; CD4+ T cells; age
It seems obvious that what you see influences what you feel, but what if the opposite were also true? What if how you feel can shape your visual experience? In this experiment, we demonstrate that the affective state of a perceiver influences the contents of visual awareness. Participants received positive, negative, and neutral affect inductions and then completed a series of binocular rivalry trials in which a face (smiling, scowling or neutral) was presented to one eye and a house to the other. The percepts “competed” for dominance in visual consciousness. We found, as predicted, that all faces (smiling, scowling, and neutral) were dominant for longer when perceivers experienced unpleasant affect compared to when they were in a neutral state (a social vigilance effect), although scowling faces increased their dominance when perceivers felt unpleasant (a relative negative congruence effect). Relatively speaking, smiling faces increased their dominance more when perceivers were experiencing pleasant affect (a positive congruence effect). These findings illustrate that the affective state of a perceiver serves as a context that influences the contents of consciousness.
Affect; Perception; Binocular Rivalry
Perceiving the affective valence of objects influences how we think about and react to the world around us. Conversely, the speed and quality with which we visually recognize objects in a visual scene can vary dramatically depending on that scene’s affective content. Although typical visual scenes contain mostly “everyday” objects, the affect perception in visual objects has been studied using somewhat atypical stimuli with strong affective valences (e.g., guns or roses). Here we explore whether affective valence must be strong or overt to exert an effect on our visual perception. We conclude that everyday objects carry subtle affective valences – “micro-valences” – which are intrinsic to their perceptual representation.
affective valence; visual object perception; object recognition; micro-valence; object preference
Financial planning decisionss are fundamentally affective in nature; they are decisions related to money, longevity and quality of life. Over the next several decades people will be increasingly responsible for managing their own assets and investments, and they will be subject to the affective influences on active, personal decision-making. Many of these crucial decisions are made and revised across the lifespan, including when to buy or sell a home, how to save for childrens’ education, how to manage healthcare costs, when to retire, how much to save for retirement and how to allocate retirement funds. As average life expectancy increases, many retirees will be faced with inadequate savings to live comfortably until the end of their lives. In the current article, we examine the problems of and potential solutions to inadequate financial planning through the lens of affective science, with an emphasis on how brain-based changes in affective processing with age might contribute to the challenge of financial planning.
affect; neuroscience; retirement; decision-making; aging
According to the Conceptual Act Theory of Emotion, the situated conceptualization used to construe a situation determines the emotion experienced. A neuroimaging experiment tested two core hypotheses of this theory: (1) different situated conceptualizations produce different forms of the same emotion in different situations, (2) the composition of a situated conceptualization emerges from shared multimodal circuitry distributed across the brain that produces emotional states generally. To test these hypotheses, the situation in which participants experienced an emotion was manipulated. On each trial, participants immersed themselves in a physical danger or social evaluation situation and then experienced fear or anger. According to Hypothesis 1, the brain activations for the same emotion should differ as a function of the preceding situation (after removing activations that arose while constructing the situation). According to Hypothesis 2, the critical activations should reflect conceptual processing relevant to the emotion in the current situation, drawn from shared multimodal circuitry underlying emotion. The results supported these predictions and demonstrated the compositional process that produces situated conceptualizations dynamically.
Categorical perception (CP) occurs when items in a series of continuously varying stimuli are perceived as belonging to discrete categories. Thereby, perceivers are more accurate at discriminating between stimuli of different categories than between stimuli within the same category (Harnad, 1987; Goldstone, 1994). The current experiments investigated whether the structural information in the face is sufficient for CP to occur. Alternatively, a perceiver’s conceptual knowledge, by virtue of expertise or verbal labeling, might contribute. In two experiments, people who differed in their conceptual knowledge (in the form of expertise, Experiment 1, or verbal label learning, Experiment 2) categorized chimpanzee facial expressions. Expertise alone did result in enhanced CP. Only when perceivers were first trained to associate faces with a label were they more likely to show CP. Overall, the results suggest that the structural information in the face alone is often insufficient for CP; CP is enhanced by verbal labeling.
facial expressions; emotion; categorical perception; verbal labeling; expertise
We demonstrated that amygdala volume (corrected for total intracranial volume) positively correlated with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans ranging in age from 19 to 83 years. This relationship was specific to the amygdala as compared to other subcortical structures. An exploratory analysis of the entire cortical mantle also revealed an association between social network variables and cortical thickness in three cortical areas, two of which share dense connectivity with the amygdala. Amygdala volume was not related to other social variables such as life satisfaction or social support. These findings converge with data from functional neuroimaging and lesion neuropsychology indicating that the amygdala plays an important role in brain networks contributing to social behavior.
Amygdala; Social Brain; Brain Evolution; Social Network Size; MRI
Gossip is a form of affective information about who is friend and who is foe. We show that gossip does not impact only how a face is evaluated—it affects whether a face is seen in the first place. In two experiments, neutral faces were paired with negative, positive, or neutral gossip and were then presented alone in a binocular rivalry paradigm (faces were presented to one eye, houses to the other). In both studies, faces previously paired with negative (but not positive or neutral) gossip dominated longer in visual consciousness. These findings demonstrate that gossip, as a potent form of social affective learning, can influence vision in a completely top-down manner, independent of the basic structural features of a face.
Emerging evidence indicates that stimulus novelty is affectively potent and reliably engages the amygdala and other portions of the affective workspace in the brain. Using fMRI, we examined whether novel stimuli remain affectively salient across the lifespan, and therefore, whether novelty processing—a potentially survival-relevant function—is preserved with aging. Nineteen young and 22 older healthy adults were scanned during observing novel and familiar affective pictures while estimating their own subjectively experienced aroused levels. We investigated age-related difference of magnitude of activation, hemodynamic time course, and functional connectivity of BOLD responses in the amygdala. Although there were no age-related differences in the peak response of the amygdala to novelty, older individuals showed a narrower, sharper (i.e., “peakier”) hemodynamic time course in response to novel stimuli, as well as decreased connectivity between the left amygdala and the affective areas including orbito-frontal regions. These findings have relevance for understanding age-related differences in memory and affect regulation.
The purpose of this paper was to contribute to understanding of the crucial role of emotion in work motivation by testing a conceptual model developed by Seo, Barrett, and Bartunek (2004) that predicted the impacts of core affect on three behavioral outcomes of work motivation, generative-defensive orientation, effort, and persistence. We tested the model using an Internet-based investment simulation combined with an experience sampling procedure. Consistent with the predictions of the model, pleasantness was positively related to all three of the predicted indices. For the most part, these effects occurred indirectly via its relationships with expectancy, valence, and progress judgment components. Also as predicted by the model, activation was directly and positively related to effort.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex psychiatric disorder that involves symptoms from various domains that appear to be produced by the combination of several mechanisms. The authors contend that existing neural accounts fail to provide a viable model that explains the emergence and maintenance of PTSD and the associated heterogeneity in the expression of this disorder (cf. Garfinkel & Liberzon, 2009). They introduce a psychological construction approach as a novel framework to probe the brain basis of PTSD, where distributed networks within the human brain are thought to correspond to the basic psychological ingredients of the mind. The authors posit that it is the combination of these ingredients that produces the heterogeneous symptom clusters in PTSD. Their goal is show that a constructionist approach has significant heuristic value in understanding the emergence and maintenance of PTSD symptoms, and leads to different and perhaps more useful conjectures about the origins and maintenance of the syndrome than the traditional hyperreactive fear account.
This study examined the affective dysregulation component of borderline personality disorder (BPD) from an emotional granularity perspective, which refers to the specificity in which one represents emotions. Forty-six female participants meeting criteria for BPD and 51 female control participants without BPD and Axis I pathology completed tasks that assessed the degree to which participants incorporated information about valence (pleasant–unpleasant) and arousal (calm–activated) in their semantic/conceptual representations of emotions and in using labels to represent emotional reactions. As hypothesized, participants with BPD emphasized valence more and arousal less than control participants did when using emotion terms to label their emotional reactions. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
borderline personality disorder; emotional processing; emotional granularity; affective dysregulation
This paper provides the first demonstration that the content of what a talker says is sufficient to imbue the acoustics of his voice with affective meaning. In two studies, participants listened to male talkers utter positive, negative, or neutral words. Next, participants completed a sequential evaluative priming task where a neutral word spoken by one of the same talkers was presented before each target word to be evaluated. We predicted, and found, that voices served as evaluative primes that influenced the speed with which participants evaluated the target words. These two experiments demonstrate that the human voice can take on affective meaning merely based on the positive or negative value of the words uttered by that voice. Implications for affective processing, the pragmatics of communication, and person-perception are discussed.
affect; value; learning; vocalization
Emotion regulation has the odd distinction of being a wildly popular construct whose scientific existence is in considerable doubt. In this article, we discuss the confusion about whether emotion generation and emotion regulation can and should be distinguished from one another. We describe a continuum of perspectives on emotion, and highlight how different (often mutually incompatible) perspectives on emotion lead to different views about whether emotion generation and emotion regulation can be usefully distinguished. We argue that making differences in perspective explicit serves the function of allowing researchers with different theoretical commitments to collaborate productively despite seemingly insurmountable differences in terminology and methods.
Emotion; Emotion regulation
Many neuroscience studies have demonstrated that the human amygdala is a central element in the neural workspace that computes affective value. Emerging evidence suggests that novelty is an affective dimension that engages the amygdala independently of other affective properties. This current study is the first in which novelty, valence, and arousal were systematically examined for their relative contributions to amygdala activation during affective processing. Healthy young adults viewed International Affective Picture System (IAPS) images that varied along the dimensions of valence (positive, negative, neutral), arousal (high, mid, low), and novelty (novel, familiar). The results demonstrate that, in comparison to negative (vs. positive) and high (vs. low) arousal stimuli, the amygdala has higher peak responses and a selectively longer timecourse of activation to novel (vs. familiar) stimuli. In addition, novelty differentially engaged other affective brain areas including those involved in controlling and regulating amygdala responses (e.g. orbitofrontal cortex), as well as those transmitting sensory signals that the amygdala modulates (e.g. occipitotemporal visual cortex). Taken together with other findings, these results support the idea that an essential amygdala function is signaling stimulus importance or salience. The results also suggest that novelty is a critical stimulus dimension for amygdala engagement (in addition to valence and arousal).
affect; amygdala; emotion; fMRI; neuroimaging; novelty
Individuals differ in the extent to which they emphasize feelings of pleasure or displeasure in their verbal reports of emotional experience, termed valence focus (VF). Two event-contingent, experience-sampling studies examined the relationship between VF and sensitivity to pleasant and unpleasant social cues. It was predicted, and found, that individuals with greater VF (i.e., who emphasized feelings of pleasure/displeasure in reports of emotional experience) demonstrated greater self-esteem lability (i.e., larger changes in self-esteem) to pleasant and unpleasant information contained in social interactions than did those lower in VF. These effects held even after statistically controlling for possible confounding variables (neuroticism, affect intensity). Implications for understanding the psychological impact of valenced interpersonal events are discussed.
valence focus; emotion; self-esteem lability; experience-sampling; social interactions