Everyday and clinical experience demonstrate strong interactions between emotions and cognitions. Nevertheless the neural correlates underlying emotional-cognitive interaction remain unclear. Using event-related fMRI, we investigated BOLD-signal increases and decreases in medial and lateral prefrontal cortical regions during emotional and non-emotional judgment of photographs taken from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Emotional and non-emotional judgment conditions were compared to each other as well as with baseline allowing for distinction between relative signal changes (comparison between conditions) and true signal changes (referring to baseline). We have found that: (1) both emotional and non-emotional judgment of IAPS pictures were characterized by signal increases in ventrally and dorsally located lateral prefrontal cortical areas and concurrent signal decreases in ventro- and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex; (2) direct comparison between emotional and non-emotional judgment showed relative signal increases in ventro-and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and in contrast, relative signal increases were detected in ventrally and dorsally located lateral prefrontal cortical areas when comparing non-emotional to emotional judgment; and (3) as shown in separate comparisons with baseline, these relative signal changes were due to smaller signal decreases in ventro- and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and smaller signal increases in ventrally and dorsally located lateral prefrontal cortical areas during emotional judgment. Therefore, the emotional load of a cognitive task lead to both less deactivation of medial prefrontal regions and, at the same time, less activation of lateral prefrontal regions. Analogous patterns of reciprocal modulation and attenuation have previously been described for other cortical regions such as visual and auditory areas. Reciprocal modulation and attenuation in medial and lateral prefrontal cortex might constitute the neurophysiologic basis for emotional-cognitive interaction as observed in both healthy and psychiatric subjects.
- Lateral prefrontal cortex
- Medial prefrontal cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology