Distinctive amygdala subregions involved in emotion-modulated Stroop interference

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Abstract

Despite the well-known role of the amygdala in mediating emotional interference during tasks requiring cognitive resources, no definite conclusion has yet been reached regarding the differential roles of functionally and anatomically distinctive subcomponents of the amygdala in such processes. In this study, we examined female participants and attempted to separate the neural processes for the detection of emotional information from those for the regulation of cognitive interference from emotional distractors by adding a temporal gap between emotional stimuli and a subsequent cognitive Stroop task. Reaction time data showed a significantly increased Stroop interference effect following emotionally negative stimuli compared with neutral stimuli, and functional magnetic resonance imaging data revealed that the anterior ventral amygdala (avAMYG) showed greater responses to negative stimuli compared with neutral stimuli. In addition, individuals who scored high in neuroticism showed greater posterior dorsal amygdala (pdAMYG) responses to incongruent compared with congruent Stroop trials following negative stimuli, but not following neutral stimuli. Taken together, the findings of this study demonstrated functionally distinctive contributions of the avAMYG and pdAMYG to the emotion-modulated Stroop interference effect and suggested that the avAMYG encodes associative values of emotional stimuli whereas the pdAMYG resolves cognitive interference from emotional distractors.

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