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Neural representation and clinically relevant moderators of individualised self-criticism in healthy subjects


Dörig, Nadja; Schlumpf, Yolanda R; Spinelli, S; Späti, J; Brakowski, J; Quednow, Boris B; Seifritz, E; Grosse Holtforth, Martin (2014). Neural representation and clinically relevant moderators of individualised self-criticism in healthy subjects. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(9):1333-1340.

Abstract

Many people routinely criticise themselves. While self-criticism is largely unproblematic for most individuals, depressed patients exhibit excessive self-critical thinking, which leads to strong negative affects. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging in healthy subjects (N = 20) to investigate neural correlates and possible psychological moderators of self-critical processing. Stimuli consisted of individually selected adjectives of personally negative content and were contrasted with neutral and negative non-self-referential adjectives. We found that confrontation with self-critical material yielded neural activity in regions involved in emotions (anterior insula/hippocampus-amygdala formation) and in anterior and posterior cortical midline structures, which are associated with self-referential and autobiographical memory processing. Furthermore, contrasts revealed an extended network of bilateral frontal brain areas. We suggest that the co-activation of superior and inferior lateral frontal brain regions reflects the recruitment of a frontal top-down pathway, representing cognitive reappraisal strategies for dealing with evoked negative affects. In addition, activation of right superior frontal areas was positively associated with neuroticism and negatively associated with cognitive reappraisal. Although these findings may not be specific to negative stimuli, they support a role for clinically relevant personality traits in successful regulation of emotion during confrontation with self-critical material.

Abstract

Many people routinely criticise themselves. While self-criticism is largely unproblematic for most individuals, depressed patients exhibit excessive self-critical thinking, which leads to strong negative affects. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging in healthy subjects (N = 20) to investigate neural correlates and possible psychological moderators of self-critical processing. Stimuli consisted of individually selected adjectives of personally negative content and were contrasted with neutral and negative non-self-referential adjectives. We found that confrontation with self-critical material yielded neural activity in regions involved in emotions (anterior insula/hippocampus-amygdala formation) and in anterior and posterior cortical midline structures, which are associated with self-referential and autobiographical memory processing. Furthermore, contrasts revealed an extended network of bilateral frontal brain areas. We suggest that the co-activation of superior and inferior lateral frontal brain regions reflects the recruitment of a frontal top-down pathway, representing cognitive reappraisal strategies for dealing with evoked negative affects. In addition, activation of right superior frontal areas was positively associated with neuroticism and negatively associated with cognitive reappraisal. Although these findings may not be specific to negative stimuli, they support a role for clinically relevant personality traits in successful regulation of emotion during confrontation with self-critical material.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPSYCH Erstautor Psychotherapeutisches Zentrum des Psychologischen Instituts UZH
Language:English
Date:23 August 2014
Deposited On:10 Feb 2014 10:04
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 08:41
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1749-5016
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst123
PubMed ID:23887820

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