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The neural substrate of positive bias in spontaneous emotional processing


Viviani, R; Lo, H; Sim, E-J; Beschoner, P; Stingl, J C; Horn, A B (2010). The neural substrate of positive bias in spontaneous emotional processing. PLoS ONE, 5(11):e15454.

Abstract

Even in the presence of negative information, healthy human beings display an optimistic tendency when thinking of past success and future chances, giving a positive bias to everyday's cognition. The tendency to actively select positive thoughts suggests the existence of a mechanism to exclude negative content, raising the issue of its dependence on mechanisms like those of effortful control. Using perfusion imaging, we examined how brain activations differed according to whether participants were left to prefer positive thoughts spontaneously, or followed an explicit instruction to the same effect, finding a widespread dissociation of brain perfusion patterns. Under spontaneous processing of emotional material, recruitment of areas associated with effortful attention, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, was reduced relative to instructed avoidance of negative material (F(1,58) = 26.24, p = 0.047, corrected). Under spontaneous avoidance perfusion increments were observed in several areas that were deactivated by the task, including the perigenual medial prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, individual differences in executive capacity were not associated with positive bias. These findings suggest that spontaneous positive cognitive emotion regulation in health may result from processes that, while actively suppressing emotionally salient information, differ from those associated with effortful and directed control.

Even in the presence of negative information, healthy human beings display an optimistic tendency when thinking of past success and future chances, giving a positive bias to everyday's cognition. The tendency to actively select positive thoughts suggests the existence of a mechanism to exclude negative content, raising the issue of its dependence on mechanisms like those of effortful control. Using perfusion imaging, we examined how brain activations differed according to whether participants were left to prefer positive thoughts spontaneously, or followed an explicit instruction to the same effect, finding a widespread dissociation of brain perfusion patterns. Under spontaneous processing of emotional material, recruitment of areas associated with effortful attention, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, was reduced relative to instructed avoidance of negative material (F(1,58) = 26.24, p = 0.047, corrected). Under spontaneous avoidance perfusion increments were observed in several areas that were deactivated by the task, including the perigenual medial prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, individual differences in executive capacity were not associated with positive bias. These findings suggest that spontaneous positive cognitive emotion regulation in health may result from processes that, while actively suppressing emotionally salient information, differ from those associated with effortful and directed control.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:2010
Deposited On:24 Nov 2010 13:10
Last Modified:17 Aug 2016 08:30
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0015454
PubMed ID:21079747
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-38879

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