Anticipatory brain activity predicts the success or failure of subsequent emotion regulation
Citation: Denny, B. T., Ochsner, K. N., Weber, J., & Wager, T. D. (2012). Anticipatory brain activity predicts the success or failure of subsequent emotion regulation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
Expectations about an upcoming emotional event have the power to shape one's subsequent affective response for better or worse. Here, we used me- diation analyses to examine the relationship between brain activity when anticipating the need to cognitively reappraise aversive images, amygdala responses to those images and subsequent success in diminishing negative affect. We found that anticipatory activity in right rostrolateral prefrontal cortex was associated with greater subsequent left amygdala responses to aversive images and decreased regulation success. In contrast, anticipatory ventral anterior insula activity was associated with reduced amygdala responses and greater reappraisal success. In both cases, left amygdala responses mediated the relationship between anticipatory activity and reappraisal success. These results suggest that anticipation facilitates successful reappraisal via reduced anticipatory prefrontal 'cognitive' elaboration and better integration of affective information in paralimbic and subcortical systems.