Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 October 2018
Reappraisal, an adaptive emotion regulation strategy, is associated with frontal engagement. In internalizing psychopathologies (IPs) such as anxiety and depression frontal activity is atypically reduced suggesting impaired regulation capacity. Yet, successful reappraisal is often demonstrated at the behavioral level. A data-driven approach was used to clarify brain and behavioral relationships in IPs.
During functional magnetic resonance imaging, anxious [general anxiety disorder (n = 43), social anxiety disorder (n = 72)] and depressed (n = 47) patients reappraised negative images to reduce negative affect (‘ReappNeg’) and viewed negative images (‘LookNeg’). After each trial, the affective state was reported. A cut-point (i.e. values <0 based on ΔReappNeg-LookNeg) demarcated successful reappraisers. Neural activity for ReappNeg-LookNeg, derived from 37 regions of interest, was submitted to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to identify unique components of reappraisal-related brain response. PCA factors, symptom severity, and self-reported habitual reappraisal were submitted to discriminant function analysis and linear regression to examine whether these data predicted successful reappraisal (yes/no) and variance in reappraisal ability.
Most patients (63%) were successful reappraisers according to the behavioral criterion (values<0; ΔReappNeg-LookNeg). Discriminant function analysis was not significant for PCA factors, symptoms, or habitual reappraisal. For regression, more activation in a factor with high loadings for frontal regions predicted better reappraisal facility. Results were not significant for other variables.
At the individual level, more activation in a ‘frontal’ factor corresponded with better reappraisal facility. However, neither brain nor behavioral variables classified successful reappraisal (yes/no). Findings suggest individual differences in regions strongly implicated in reappraisal play a role in on-line reappraisal capability.