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Neural predictors of emotional inertia in daily life.

  • Author(s): Waugh, Christian E;
  • Shing, Elaine Z;
  • Avery, Bradley M;
  • Jung, Youngkyoo;
  • Whitlow, Christopher T;
  • Maldjian, Joseph A
  • et al.
Abstract

Assessing emotional dynamics in the brain offers insight into the fundamental neural and psychological mechanisms underlying emotion. One such dynamic is emotional inertia-the influence of one's emotional state at one time point on one's emotional state at a subsequent time point. Emotion inertia reflects emotional rigidity and poor emotion regulation as evidenced by its relationship to depression and neuroticism. In this study, we assessed changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) from before to after an emotional task and used these changes to predict stress, positive and negative emotional inertia in daily life events. Cerebral blood flow changes in the lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) predicted decreased non-specific emotional inertia, suggesting that the lPFC may feature a general inhibitory mechanism responsible for limiting the impact that an emotional state from one event has on the emotional state of a subsequent event. CBF changes in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and lateral occipital cortex were associated with positive emotional inertia and negative/stress inertia, respectively. These data advance the blossoming literature on the temporal dynamics of emotion in the brain and on the use of neural indices to predict mental health-relevant behavior in daily life.

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