The neural correlates of trait resilience when anticipating and recovering from threat.

Citation: Waugh, C. E., Wager, T. D., Fredrickson, B. L., Noll, D. C., Taylor, S. F.. (2008). The neural correlates of trait resilience when anticipating and recovering from threat. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 3, 322-32.

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Abstract:

A facet of emotional resilience critical for adapting to adversity is flexible use of emotional resources. We hypothesized that in threatening situations, this emotional flexibility enables resilient people to use emotional resources during appropriately emotional events, and conserve emotional resources during innocuous events. We tested this hypothesis using functional magnetic resonance imaging in a repeated recovery from threat task with low- and high-trait resilient individuals (LowR and HighR, respectively, as measured by ER89). In an event-related design, 13 HighR and 13 LowR participants viewed 'threat' cues, which signaled either an aversive or neutral picture with equal probabilities, or 'nonthreat' cues, which signaled a neutral picture. Results show that when under threat, LowR individuals exhibited prolonged activation in the anterior insula to both the aversive and neutral pictures, whereas HighR individuals exhibited insula activation only to the aversive pictures. These data provide neural evidence that in threatening situations, resilient people flexibly and appropriately adjust the level of emotional resources needed to meet the demands of the situation.