This study aimed to explore whether walking in nature may be beneficial for individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Healthy adults demonstrate significant cognitive gains after nature walks, but it was unclear whether those same benefits would be achieved in a depressed sample as walking alone in nature might induce rumination, thereby worsening memory and mood.
Twenty individuals diagnosed with MDD participated in this study. At baseline, mood and short term memory span were assessed using the PANAS and the backwards digit span (BDS) task, respectively. Participants were then asked to think about an unresolved negative autobiographical event to prime rumination, prior to taking a 50 minute walk in either a natural or urban setting. After the walk, mood and short-term memory span were reassessed. The following week, participants returned to the lab and repeated the entire procedure, but walked in the location not visited in the first session (i.e., a counterbalanced within-subjects design).
Participants exhibited significant increases in memory span after the nature walk relative to the urban walk, p < .001, ηp2= .53 (a large effect-size). Participants also showed increases in mood, but the mood effects did not correlate with the memory effects, suggesting separable mechanisms and replicating previous work.
Sample size and participants’ motivation.
These findings extend earlier work demonstrating the cognitive and affective benefits of interacting with nature to individuals with MDD. Therefore, interacting with nature may be useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments for MDD.
Major Depressive Disorder; memory; nature; intervention; mood; attention restoration
Investigators have begun to examine the temporal dynamics of affect in individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), focusing on instability, inertia, and reactivity of emotion. How these dynamics differ between individuals with MDD and healthy controls have not before been examined in a single study. In the present study, 53 adults with MDD and 53 healthy adults carried hand-held electronic devices for approximately seven days and were prompted randomly eight times per day to report their levels of current negative affect (NA), positive affect (PA), and the occurrence of significant events. In terms of NA, compared with healthy controls, depressed participants reported greater instability and greater reactivity to positive events, but comparable levels of inertia and reactivity to negative events. Neither average levels of NA nor NA reactivity to, frequency or intensity of, events accounted for the group difference in instability of NA. In terms of PA, the MDD and control groups did not differ significantly in their instability, inertia, or reactivity to positive or negative events. These findings highlight the importance of emotional instability in MDD, particularly with respect to NA, and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the everyday emotional experiences of depressed individuals.
emotional variability; affective instability; experience sampling method; depression
Researchers using experimental paradigms to examine cognitive processes have demonstrated that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is associated not with a general deficit in cognitive functioning, but instead with more specific anomalies in the processing of negatively valenced material. Indeed, cognitive theories of depression posit that negative biases in the processing of information play a critical role in influencing the onset, maintenance, and recurrence of depressive episodes. In this paper we review findings from behavioral studies documenting that MDD is associated with specific difficulties in attentional disengagement from negatively valenced material, with tendencies to interpret information in a negative manner, with deficits in cognitive control in the processing of negative material, and with enhanced memory for negative material. To gain a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of these abnormalities, we also examine findings from functional neuroimaging studies of depression and show that dysfunction in neural systems that subserve emotion processing, inhibition, and attention may underlie and contribute to the deficits in cognition that have been documented in depressed individuals. Finally, we briefly review evidence from studies of children who are at high familial risk for depression that indicates that abnormalities in cognition and neural function are observable before the onset of MDD and, consequently, may represent a risk factor for the development of this disorder. By integrating research from cognitive and neural investigations of depression, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding not only of how cognitive and biological factors interact to affect the onset, maintenance, and course of MDD, but also of how such research can aid in the development of targeted strategies for the prevention and treatment of this debilitating disorder.
depression; MDD; neuroimaging; amygdala; interpretation bias; attention bias; memory bias; cognitive control
Cognitive models of bipolar I disorder (BD) may aid in identification of children who are especially vulnerable to chronic mood dysregulation. Information-processing biases related to memory and attention likely play a role in the development and persistence of BD among adolescents; however, these biases have not been extensively studied in youth with BD.
We administered the self-referent encoding task and the dot-probe task to adolescents with bipolar I disorder (BD, n = 35) and a demographically similar healthy comparison group (HC, n = 25) at baseline, and at a 1-year follow-up in a subset of this cohort (n = 22 per group).
At both baseline and 1-year follow-up, there were significant interactions of group (BD, HC) and valence of stimulus (positive, negative adjective) on endorsement and recall of self-referent adjectives. HC adolescents endorsed and recalled more positive self-referent adjectives at baseline and follow-up while adolescents with BD endorsed and recalled more negative self-referent adjectives at baseline but not follow-up. Over time, depression symptomatology was associated with impaired memory for positive self-referent adjectives. There were no group differences in attentional bias at either time points.
Adolescents with BD exhibit bias away from endorsement and recall of positive adjectives, which remained stable over time and independent of mood state.
Adolescence; bipolar disorder; information-processing; memory bias; longitudinal
A range of prefrontal and subcortical volumetric abnormalities has been found in adults and adolescents with bipolar disorder. It is unclear, however, if these deficits are present early in the onset of mania or are a consequence of multiple mood episodes or prolonged exposure to medication. The goal of this study was to examine whether youth with bipolar I disorder who recently experienced their first episode of mania are characterized by brain volumetric abnormalities.
Anatomical images from magnetic resonance imaging of 26 13 to 18-year-old adolescents with bipolar I disorder and 24 age-comparable healthy controls with no personal or family history of psychopathology were analyzed using whole-brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM).
Compared with healthy controls, adolescents with bipolar I disorder had significantly less gray matter volume in the left subgenual cingulate cortex [p < 0.05, family-wise error (FWE)-corrected].
Adolescents with a recent single episode of mania have smaller subgenual cingulate cortex volume than do their healthy counterparts, suggesting that this anomaly occurs early in the onset of, or may predate the disorder. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine the impact of this volumetric reduction on the course and outcome of this disorder.
first episode mania; adolescent; subgenual anterior cingulate cortex; bipolar disorder; voxel-based morphometry; lithium
Previous research has implicated the behavioral activation system (BAS) in depression. The relation of BAS functioning to aspects of cognitive vulnerability to depression, however, is not known.
The present study investigated associations among level of BAS functioning and the encoding and recall of positive and negative self-referent information in currently nondepressed participants with a history of recurrent major depression (recovered; RMD) and in never-depressed control participants (CTL). Participants completed self-report measures of levels of BAS and behavioral inhibition system (BIS) functioning. Following a negative mood induction, participants were presented with a series of positive and negative adjectives; they indicated which words described them and later recalled as many of the words as they were able.
The relation of BAS functioning to self-referent processing was dependent on participant group. Although lower BAS reward responsivity was associated with the endorsement and recall of fewer positive words across groups, the magnitude of these associations was stronger, and was only significant, within the RMD group. Furthermore, only for RMD participants was lower BAS reward responsivity associated with the endorsement of more negative words. These effects were not accounted for by depressive or anxiety symptoms, current mood, or level of BIS functioning.
These results indicate that BAS functioning may be distinctively linked to negatively biased self-referent processing, one facet of cognitive vulnerability to depression, in individuals with a history of MDD. Enhancing BAS functioning may be important in buffering cognitive vulnerability to depression.
depression; behavioral activation system; remission; cognitive processing; memory
In this paper we examine the nature of automatic cognitive processing in anxiety disorders and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Rather than viewing automaticity as a unitary construct, we follow a social cognition perspective (Bargh, 1994) that argues for four theoretically independent features of automaticity: unconscious (processing of emotional stimuli occurs outside awareness), efficient (processing emotional meaning uses minimal attentional resources), unintentional (no goal is needed to engage in processing emotional meaning), and uncontrollable (limited ability to avoid, alter or terminate processing emotional stimuli). Our review of the literature suggests that most anxiety disorders are characterized by uncontrollable, and likely also unconscious and unintentional, biased processing of threat-relevant information. In contrast, MDD is most clearly typified by uncontrollable, but not unconscious or unintentional, processing of negative information. For the anxiety disorders and for MDD, there is not sufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions about efficiency of processing, though early indications are that neither anxiety disorders nor MDD are characterized by this feature. Clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed and directions for future research are offered. In particular, it is clear that paradigms that more directly delineate the different features of automaticity are required to gain a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of the importance of automatic processing in emotion dysregulation.
automaticity; anxiety; depression; unconscious; efficient; unintentional; uncontrollable
The ability to delay gratification in childhood has been linked to positive outcomes in adolescence and adulthood. Here we examine a subsample of participants from a seminal longitudinal study of self-control throughout a subject’s lifespan. Self control, first studied in children at age 4, is now reexamined 40 years later, on a task that required control over the contents of working memory. We examine whether patterns of brain activation on this task can reliably distinguish participants with consistently low and high self-control abilities (low vs. high delayers). We find that low delayers recruit significantly higher-dimensional neural networks when performing the task compared to high delayers. High delayers are also more homogeneous as a group in their neural patterns compared to low delayers. From these brain patterns we can predict with 71% accuracy, whether a participant is a high or low delayer. The present results suggest that dimensionality of neural networks is a biological predictor of self-control abilities.
fMRI; principal components; dimensionality; working memory; delay of gratification; self-control; linear and quadratic discriminants
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by several emotional disturbances. One possible but not well-examined disturbance is in attention to emotion, an important facet of emotional awareness. We examined whether attention to emotion predicted recovery from MDD. Fifty-three adults with current MDD completed a week of experience sampling (Time 1). At each prompt, participants reported attention to emotion, negative affect (NA), and positive affect (PA). Approximately one year later (Time 2), the depressive status of 27 participants was reassessed. Participants who had recovered from MDD (n = 8) indicated paying less attention to their emotions at Time 1 than did participants who had not fully recovered (n = 19). Attention to emotion was better predictor of recovery than was severity of MDD, NA, or PA at Time 1. Levels of attention to emotion at Time 1 in participants who recovered from MDD did not differ significantly from the levels reported by 53 never-depressed individuals who had participated in the experience sampling. Findings indicate that high levels of an otherwise adaptive emotional facet can adversely affect the course of MDD.
Relational peer victimization is associated with internalizing symptoms. Compared to boys, girls are more likely to be both relationally victimized by peers and distressed by the victimization. While previous studies have reported that a functional polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) moderates the effect of stressful life events on depressive symptoms, the present study is the first to evaluate the interaction of this polymorphism with relational peer victimization to predict level of depressive symptoms in young girls.
Participants were 78 girls ages 10 to 14 who had no current or past Axis I disorder. Girls were genotyped for 5-HTTLPR; peer victimization was assessed with the Social Experiences Questionnaire, and depressive symptoms with the Children's Depression Inventory.
The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism alone did not predict level of depressive symptoms; the interaction of 5-HTTLPR and relational peer victimization, however, was a significant predictor of depressive symptoms. Follow-up analyses indicated that peer victimization significantly predicted level of depressive symptoms only for girls who were homozygous for the short allele, and not for girls homozygous for the long allele or who were heterozygous for the short and long alleles.
The findings support the diathesis-stress model of depression: having two 5-HTTLPR short alleles confers vulnerability to depressive symptoms in adolescent girls when they experience relational peer victimization. These findings also suggest that relational peer victimization, at least for girls with genetic vulnerability, is a significant source of stress and should be recognized in the monitoring and prevention of bullying.
peer victimization; bullying; depression; genetic polymorphisms; 5-HTTLPR
The present study was designed to examine neural correlates of inhibitory dysfunction in individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Twelve MDD participants and 12 never-depressed controls completed the negative affective priming (NAP) task in the scanner. Results indicated that, in depressed participants, increased activation in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) is associated with inhibition of negative, but not positive, words; in contrast, in nondepressed participants, inhibition of positive, but not negative, words is associated with increased activation in the rACC. These findings indicate that abnormalities in neural function, especially in the rACC, may underlie difficulties experienced by depressed individuals in inhibiting negative thoughts. These results underscore the importance of continuing to examine the relation between cognitive and neural functioning in depression in order to gain a broader and more integrative understanding of this disorder.
anterior cingulate cortex; inhibition; negative priming; functional magnetic resonance imaging
Major life events have been found to precede onsets of a 1st lifetime episode of depression more commonly than subsequent recurrences. Despite general empirical support for this finding, few data directly address how the role of major life events may change over successive recurrences. Further, little research has examined major chronic difficulties in relation to a 1st lifetime episode versus a recurrence of depression. The present study tested the associations between major life events and major difficulties in relation to lifetime history of depressive episodes in a sample of 96 individuals diagnosed with major depression. Using investigator-based measures of life stress, the authors found that, whereas major life events were associated with fewer lifetime episodes, major chronic difficulties were related to more prior episodes. These findings are discussed in terms of underlying mechanisms that may account for the changing role of major life stress over successive recurrences of depression.
life events; chronic stress; depression; recurrence
A long-standing debate concerns whether dysfunctional cognitive processes and content play a causal role in the etiology of depression or more simply represent correlates of the disorder. There has been insufficient appreciation in this debate of specific predictions afforded by cognitive theory in relation to major life stress and changes in cognition over time. In this paper we present a novel perspective for investigating the etiological relevance of cognitive factors in depression. We hypothesize that individuals who experienced a severe life event prior to the onset of major depression will exhibit greater changes in dysfunctional attitudes over the course of the episode than will individuals without a severe life event.
Fifty-three participants diagnosed with major depression were assessed longitudinally, approximately 1 year apart, with state-of-the-art measures of life stress and dysfunctional attitudes.
Depressed individuals with a severe life event prior to episode onset exhibited greater changes in cognitive biases over time than did depressed individuals without a prior severe event. These results were especially pronounced for individuals who no longer met diagnostic criteria for major depression at the second assessment.
Specific patterns of change in cognitive biases over the course of depression as a function of major life stress support the etiological relevance of cognition in major depression.
While major depressive disorder has been shown to be a significant mental health issue for school-age children, recent research indicates that depression can be observed in children as early as the preschool period. Yet, little work has been done to explore the neurobiological factors associated with this early form of depression. Given research suggesting a relation between adult depression and anomalies in emotion-related neural circuitry, the goal of the current study was to elucidate changes in functional activation during negative mood induction and emotion regulation in school-age children with a history of preschool-onset depression. The results suggest that a history of depression during the preschool period is associated with decreased activity in prefrontal cortex during mood induction and regulation. Moreover, the severity of current depressed mood was associated with increased activity in limbic regions, such as the amygdala, particularly in children with a history of depression. Similar to results observed in adult depression, the current findings indicate disruptions in emotion-related neural circuitry associated with preschool-onset depression.
preschool depression; imaging; emotion regulation; prefrontal; amygdala
Deficits in reward processing and their neural correlates have been associated with major depression. It is unclear, however, if these deficits precede the onset of depression or are a consequence of this disorder.
To determine whether anomalous neural processing of reward characterizes children at familial risk for depression in the absence of a personal history of psychopathology.
Comparing neural activity of children at low and high risk for depression as they process reward and loss.
University fMRI facility.
Thirteen 10– 14-year-old never-disordered daughters of mothers with recurrent depression (“high risk”) and 13 age-matched never-disordered daughters with no family history of depression (“low risk”).
Main Outcome Measure
Neural activity, as measured with fMRI, in key reward and attention neural circuitry during anticipation and receipt of reward and loss.
While anticipating gains, high-risk participants showed less activation than did their low-risk counterparts in the putamen and left insula, but greater activation in the right insula. When receiving punishment, high-risk participants showed greater activation in the dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus than did low-risk participants, who showed greater activation in the caudate and putamen.
Familial risk for depression affects neural mechanisms underlying the processing of reward and loss; young girls at risk for depression exhibit anomalies in the processing of reward and loss prior to the onset of depressive symptoms. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine whether these characteristics predict the subsequent onset of depression.
depression; reward; anticipation; incentive; familial risk
This study was designed to examine whether processing of emotional stimuli predicts both symptomatic improvement and recovery from depression. Participants diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (N = 63) completed information-processing tasks to assess attention to and memory for sad, physically threatening, socially threatening, and happy stimuli. At a follow-up session an average of nine months later, participants were reassessed to determine diagnostic status and depression severity. None of the measure of attention or memory predicted diagnostic status at follow-up. Those depressed participants who remembered a higher proportion of positive words that they had endorsed as self-descriptive exhibited greater symptomatic improvement. After controlling for memory of positive self-referential words, attentional measures did not predict symptomatic change. These results are consistent with a growing literature highlighting the importance of emotionally relevant memory processes for understanding the course of major depression.
depression; recovery; information processing; memory; attention
Previous brain imaging studies have reported that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by decreased volumes of several cortical and subcortical structures, including the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and caudate nucleus. The purpose of the present study was to identify structural volumetric differences between MDD and healthy participants using a method that allows a comparison of gray and white matter volume across the whole brain. In addition, we explored the relation between symptom severity and brain regions with decreased volumes in MDD participants. Twenty-two women diagnosed with MDD and 25 healthy women with no history of major psychiatric disorders participated in this study. Magnetic resonance brain images were analyzed using optimized voxel-based morphometry to examine group differences in regional gray and white matter volume. Compared with healthy controls, MDD participants were found to have decreased gray matter volume in the bilateral caudate nucleus and the thalamus. No group differences were found for white matter volume, nor were there significant correlations between gray matter volumes and symptom severity within the MDD group. The present results suggest that smaller volume of caudate nucleus may be related to the pathophysiology of MDD and may account for abnormalities of the cortico-striatal-pallido-thalamic loop in MDD.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); voxel-based morphometry (VBM); caudate; depression; brain
Depression is characterized by sleep difficulties, but the extent to which subjective and objective sleep disturbances precede depression are unclear. This study was designed to examine perceptions of sleep quality in addition to actigraphy- and diary-measured sleep variables in healthy girls at low and high familial risk for major depressive disorder. Forty-four healthy daughters and their mothers completed a week of daily sleep diary and actigraphy; 24 girls had mothers with no history of psychopathology (low risk, mean age 14.92 years), and 20 girls had mothers with recurrent depression during the daughter’s lifetime (high risk, mean age 14.12 years). All daughters had no current or past psychopathology. High-risk girls reported significantly poorer subjective sleep quality than did low-risk girls (P = 0.001). The two groups of participants did not differ in actigraphy- or diary-measured sleep duration, onset latency or snooze duration. Healthy girls at high familial risk for depression report poorer sleep quality than do girls at low risk for depression, despite the absence of group differences in objective sleep disturbances as measured by actigraphy or daily diary. This pattern of findings may reflect a broader cognitive or physiological phenotype of risk for depression.
actigraphy; adolescent; depression; risk; sleep
Daughters of depressed mothers are at significantly elevated risk for developing a depressive disorder themselves. We have little understanding, however, of the specific factors that contribute to this risk. The ability to regulate negative affect effectively is critical to emotional and physical health and may play an important role in influencing risk for depression. We examined whether never-disordered daughters whose mothers have experienced recurrent episodes of depression during their daughters’ lifetime differ from never-disordered daughters of never-disordered mothers in their patterns of neural activation during a negative mood induction and during automatic mood regulation. Sad mood was induced in daughters through the use of film clips; daughters then recalled positive autobiographical memories, a procedure shown previously to repair negative affect. During the mood induction, high-risk girls exhibited greater activation than did low-risk daughters in brain areas that have frequently been implicated in the experience of negative affect, including the amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In contrast, during automatic mood regulation, low-risk daughters exhibited greater activation than did their high-risk counterparts in brain areas that have frequently been associated with top-down regulation of emotion, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. These findings indicate that girls at high and low risk for depression differ in their patterns of neural activation both while experiencing, and while repairing negative affect, and suggest that anomalies in neural functioning precede the onset of a depressive episode.
depression; cognition; emotion; emotion regulation; fMRI; memory
Recent evidence indicates that individuals who are homozygous for the short (s) allele in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene have higher rates of depression and other psychiatric disorders as a function of exposure to increasing levels of stressful life events than do individuals who have one or two copies of the long (l) allele. Despite the reliability of this association, the mechanism by which this polymorphism confers risk for psychopathology in the presence of stress is not understood. The present study was designed to examine the formulation that individuals who are homozygous for the s allele are characterized by a greater biological reactivity to stress than are their counterparts who have one or two copies of the l allele.
Girls at high (n = 25) and low (n = 42) risk for depression by virtue of the presence or absence of a family history of this disorder were genotyped and exposed to a standardized laboratory stress task. Cortisol levels were assessed before the stressor, after the stressor, and during an extended recovery period.
Girls who were homozygous for the s-allele produced higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in response to the stressor than did girls with an l allele.
These findings indicate that the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism is associated with biological stress reactivity, which may increase susceptibility to depression in the face of stressful life events.
Depression is a prevalent and impairing psychiatric disorder that affects how we feel and how we think about ourselves and the world around us. Cognitive theories of depression have long posited that various thought processes are involved in the development, maintenance, and recurrence of depressive episodes. Contemporary research has utilized experimental procedures to examine cognitive processes in depressed individuals as well as the nature of the relation of these processes to the emotion dysregulation that is central to the disorder. For example, investigators have assessed the ways in which depression alters aspects of information processing, including attention and perception, interpretation, and memory processes; this research has generated relatively consistent findings. In addition, researchers have attempted to identify and elucidate the cognitive mechanisms that may link these biases in information processing to emotion dysregulation in depression. These mechanisms include inhibitory processes and deficits in working memory, ruminative responses to negative mood states, and the inability to use positive and rewarding stimuli to regulate negative mood. Results of these investigations converge on the formulation that depression is associated with increased elaboration of negative information, difficulties in cognitive control when processing this information, and difficulties disengaging from this information. Research examining cognitive aspects of depression not only enhances our understanding of this common and costly disorder, but also has implications for the treatment of depression and for future investigations of the biological foundations of this disorder.
Theorists contend that emotional awareness is vital to being able to use emotional information adaptively. The extent to which individuals attend to and value their feelings, or attention to emotion, is a facet of emotional awareness. Little research, however, has examined whether attention to emotion affects the magnitude or intensity of emotional experiences. In the present study we examined the relations between attention to emotion and levels of affect in 53 healthy adults. Participants carried hand-held electronic devices for approximately seven days and were randomly prompted eight times per day to answer a series of questions. At each prompt, participants reported attention to emotion, current negative affect (NA), and positive affect (PA). All findings presented were computed using multilevel modeling. Replicating findings obtained using trait-level measures, we found that attention to emotion was associated concurrently with higher levels of both NA and PA. We also found prospectively that attention to emotion at one prompt predicted a decrease in levels of NA, but no change in levels of PA, at the subsequent prompt. These findings suggest that emotional processes serve different functions over time and highlight the role of attention to emotion in affect regulation.
affect intensity; attention to emotion; emotional awareness; emotion regulation; experience sampling
Vector autoregression (VAR) and structural equation modeling (SEM) are two popular brain-network modeling tools. VAR, which is a data-driven approach, assumes that connected regions exert time-lagged influences on one another. In contrast, the hypothesis-driven SEM is used to validate an existing connectivity model where connected regions have contemporaneous interactions among them. We present the two models in detail and discuss their applicability to FMRI data, and interpretational limits. We also propose a unified approach that models both lagged and contemporaneous effects. The unifying model, structural vector autoregression (SVAR), may improve statistical and explanatory power, and avoids some prevalent pitfalls that can occur when VAR and SEM are utilized separately.
connectivity analysis; vector autoregression (VAR); structural equation modeling (SEM); structural vector autoregression (SVAR)
Responses to stress vary greatly in young adolescents, and little is known about neural correlates of the stress response in youth. The purpose of this study was to examine whether variability in cortisol responsivity following a social stress test in young adolescents is associated with altered neural functional connectivity (FC) of the salience network (SN) measured during resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Forty-nine typically developing young adolescents participated in a social stress test during which they contributed salivary cortisol samples. Following this, they underwent resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) scanning. We examined the association of FC of the SN (composed of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and bilateral anterior insula regions) with cortisol responsivity.
Greater cortisol responsivity was significantly positively correlated with higher FC between subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (Cg25) and the SN, controlling for participant age. There were no regions of the brain that showed an inverse relation.
Brain systems that have been implicated in autonomic arousal and that influence subjective feeling states show altered FC associated with stress responsivity in early life.
resting-state; adolescents; HPA-axis; stress; subgenual cingulate; fMRI; salience network; connectivity
Field studies and laboratory experiments have documented that a key component of resilience is emotional flexibility – the ability to respond flexibly to changing emotional circumstances. In the present study we tested the hypotheses that resilient people exhibit emotional flexibility: a) in response to frequently changing emotional stimuli; and b) across multiple modalities of emotional responding. As participants viewed a series of emotional pictures, we assessed their self-reported affect, facial muscle activity, and startle reflexes. Higher trait resilience predicted more divergent affective and facial responses (corrugator and zygomatic) to positive versus negative pictures. Thus, compared with their low resilient counterparts, resilient people appear to be able to more flexibly match their emotional responses to the frequently changing emotional stimuli. Moreover, whereas high trait resilient participants exhibited divergent startle responses to positive versus negative pictures regardless of the valence of the preceding trial, low trait resilient participants did not exhibit divergent startle responses when the preceding picture was negative. High trait resilient individuals, therefore, appear to be better able than are their low-resilient counterparts to either switch or maintain their emotional responses depending on whether the emotional context changes. The present findings broaden our understanding of the mechanisms underlying resilience by demonstrating that resilient people are able to flexibly change their affective and physiological responses to match the demands of frequently changing environmental circumstances.
resilience; emotional flexibility; affect; EMG; startle reflex