Richard J Davidson, PhD – Slide of the Week

Richard J Davidson, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: Greater structural integrity of uncinate fasciculus predicts better recovery from negative emotion

Legend: LEFT:  depicts time course of electromyographic (EMG) activity from the facial corrugator muscle (“frown muscle”) in response to negative, positive and neutral pictures.  The picture was presented for the first four seconds (reactivity) and EMG activity is recorded continuously for 12 seconds to capture the recovery following picture offset.  RIGHT:  depicts fractional anisotropy (FA) in the uncinate fasciculus in relation to EMG measures of reactivity (left side) and recovery (right side).  Data indicate that individuals with greater FA show better recovery from negative pictures.

Citation: Pedersen, W.S., Dean, D.C., Adluru, N., Gresham, L.K., Lee, S.D., Kelly, M.P., Mumford, J.A., Davidson, R.J., & Schaefer, S.M.  (In press). Individual variation in white matter microstructure is related to better recovery from negative stimuli.  Emotion.

Abstract: The uncinate fasciculus is a white matter tract that may facilitate emotion regulation by carrying connections from the prefrontal cortex to regions of the temporal lobe, including the amygdala. Depression and anxiety are associated with reduced uncinate fasciculus fractional anisotropy (FA) – a diffusion tensor imaging measure related to white matter integrity. In the current study, we tested whether FA in the uncinate fasciculus is associated with individual differences in emotional recovery measured with corrugator supercilii electromyography in response to negative, neutral, and positive images in 108 participants from the Midlife in the US (MIDUS; Refresher study. Corrugator activity is linearly associated with changes in affect, and differentiated negative, neutral, and positive emotional responses. Higher uncinate fasciculus FA was associated with lower corrugator activity 4-8 seconds after negative image offset, indicative of better recovery from negative provocation. In an exploratory analysis, we found a similar association for the inferior fronto-occipital, inferior longitudinal and superior longitudinal fasciculi. These results suggest that the microstructural features of the uncinate fasciculus, and these other association white matter fibers, may support emotion regulatory processes with greater white matter integrity facilitating healthier affective functioning.

About the Lab: Research in Davidson’s laboratory is focused on the neural bases of disordered and healthy emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing, including meditation and related contemplative practices. His studies have included persons of all ages, from birth though old age, and have also included individuals with disorders of emotion, such as mood and anxiety disorders and autism, as well as expert meditation practitioners with tens of thousands of hours of experience. His research uses a wide range of methods, including different varieties of MRI, positron emission tomography, electroencephalography, and modern genetic and epigenetic methods.

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