Increased rostral anterior cingulate activity following positive mental imagery training in healthy older adults.
Murphy SE., O'Donoghue MC., Blackwell SE., Nobre AC., Browning M., Holmes EA.
The ability to form positive mental images may be an important aspect of mental health and well-being. We have previously demonstrated that the vividness of positive prospective imagery is increased in healthy older adults following positive imagery cognitive training. The rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) is involved in the simulation of future affective episodes. Here, we investigate the effect of positive imagery training on rACC activity during the imagination of novel, ambiguous scenarios vs closely matched control training. Seventy-five participants received 4 weeks of positive imagery or control training. Participants underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, during which they completed an Ambiguous Sentences Task, which required them to form mental images in response to cues describing ambiguous social events. rACC activity was positively correlated with the pleasantness ratings of images formed. Positive imagery training increased rACC and bilateral hippocampal activity compared with the control training. Here, we demonstrate that rACC activity during positive imagery can be changed by the cognitive training. This is consistent with other evidence that this training enhances the vividness of positive imagery, and suggests the training may be acting to increase the intensity and affective quality of imagery simulating the future.