The influence of individual differences in harm avoidance in response to aversive and attractive stimuli in the amygdalae in an event related fMRI experiment on healthy females

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Abstract

Individuals with a high harm avoidant (HA) personality respond more intense to aversive stimuli. We studied the correlation between HA and the response to attractive and aversive stimuli in the amygdalae using fMRI.
Non-depressed young female volunteers had to look at pictures of happy and unhappy, deformed baby faces while judging the valence of the displayed emotions as positive or negative. The pictures were shown at random and the volunteers were familiarized with all pictures before the experiment. We measured 168 EPI brain volumes at 3s time rate at a 1.5T MRI scanner. The analysis was done in SPM8 to calculate the individual activation maps in response to the positive and negative pictures and the contrast maps 'positive - negative'. On these maps we performed three multiple regression analyses with all personality traits and age as regressors while restricting the analysis to the amygdalae using a mask.
A positive correlation was found for the response to the aversive stimuli in both amygdalae and for the response to the attractive stimuli in the left amygdala. No correlations were found for the contrast maps. Using the found clusters as ROI's, we performed 1-sampled T-tests with the individual activation as variable and with all personality traits and age as covariates. These tests revealed an activation in the right amygdala in response to the aversive pictures only. Performing these 1-sampled T-tests image based revealed activation in both amygdalae for the aversive stimuli and no activation for the attractive stimuli. In the right amygdala the activation and correlation clusters overlapped while in the left amygdala they did not. All our results are multiple comparison corrected significant ?Our results showed a stronger response to aversive stimuli in the right amygdala in high HA individuals supporting previous findings of an intensified response in those individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhd Day DS L&M
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • fMRI
  • Personality

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