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Emotion introspection and regulation in depression


Herwig, Uwe; Opialla, Sarah; Cattapan, Katja; Wetter, Thomas C; Jäncke, Lutz; Brühl, Annette Beatrix (2018). Emotion introspection and regulation in depression. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 277:7-13.

Abstract

Depressed patients suffer from an impairment to voluntarily influence and regulate their unpleasant emotional state. Strengthening the mental ability to interfere with dysfunctional emotion processing may be beneficial in treating depression. According to models of emotion processing this may be done by successful down-regulation of enhanced amygdala activity. We investigated short periods of intentional emotion-introspection compared with cognitive self-reflection as two domains of self-awareness in terms of effects on emotion regulation. Thirty depressed patients performed twelve second periods of emotion-introspection, self-reflection and a neutral condition during functional magnetic resonance imaging. We analyzed brain activation in the patients with depression by means of whole brain, region of interest and connectivity analyses. Amygdala activity decreased during emotion-introspection relative to self-reflection and to the neutral condition, whereby left amygdala was inversely activated relative to the left insula. Insula activity itself was correlated with medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation. In conclusion, depressed patients are able to down-regulate amygdala activity by emotion-introspection. This may be interpreted as well-working emotion regulation supposedly induced by PFC connections mediated via insula. The finding supports the application of emotion-introspection, a mindfulness-related process, in a clinical setting as an element of psychotherapy to train and improve emotion regulation.

Abstract

Depressed patients suffer from an impairment to voluntarily influence and regulate their unpleasant emotional state. Strengthening the mental ability to interfere with dysfunctional emotion processing may be beneficial in treating depression. According to models of emotion processing this may be done by successful down-regulation of enhanced amygdala activity. We investigated short periods of intentional emotion-introspection compared with cognitive self-reflection as two domains of self-awareness in terms of effects on emotion regulation. Thirty depressed patients performed twelve second periods of emotion-introspection, self-reflection and a neutral condition during functional magnetic resonance imaging. We analyzed brain activation in the patients with depression by means of whole brain, region of interest and connectivity analyses. Amygdala activity decreased during emotion-introspection relative to self-reflection and to the neutral condition, whereby left amygdala was inversely activated relative to the left insula. Insula activity itself was correlated with medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation. In conclusion, depressed patients are able to down-regulate amygdala activity by emotion-introspection. This may be interpreted as well-working emotion regulation supposedly induced by PFC connections mediated via insula. The finding supports the application of emotion-introspection, a mindfulness-related process, in a clinical setting as an element of psychotherapy to train and improve emotion regulation.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging, Psychiatry and Mental health, Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
Language:English
Date:9 May 2018
Deposited On:23 May 2018 08:51
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 15:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0925-4927
Additional Information:Supplementary material associated with this article can be found, in the online version, at doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.04.008.
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.04.008
PubMed ID:29778804

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