High-alexithymic individuals are characterized by an impaired ability to identify and communicate emotions whereas low-alexithymic individuals have a wide-ranging ability to deal with emotions. This study examined the hypothesis that valence and arousal modifications of emotional stimuli differentially modulate cortical regions in high-alexithymic and low-alexithymic individuals. To this end, 28 high-alexithymic and 25 low-alexithymic individuals were investigated with event-related fMRI using visual emotional stimuli. We found differential neural activations in the dorsal anterior cingulate, the insula and the amygdala. We suggest that these differences may account for the impaired ability of high-alexithymic individuals to appropriately handle emotional stimuli.
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