Using executive control training to suppress amygdala reactivity to aversive information.
Cohen N., Margulies DS., Ashkenazi S., Schaefer A., Taubert M., Henik A., Villringer A., Okon-Singer H.
The ability to regulate emotions is essential for adaptive behavior. This ability is suggested to be mediated by the connectivity between prefrontal brain regions and the amygdala. Yet, it is still unknown whether the ability to regulate emotions can be trained by using a non-emotional procedure, such as the recruitment of executive control (EC). Participants who were trained using a high-frequent executive control (EC) task (80% incongruent trials) showed reduced amygdala reactivity and behavioral interference of aversive pictures. These effects were observed only following multiple-session training and not following one training session. In addition, they were not observed for participants exposed to low-frequent EC training (20% incongruent trials). Resting-state functional connectivity analysis revealed a marginally significant interaction between training group and change in the connectivity between the amygdala and the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Amygdala-IFG connectivity was significantly increased following the training only in the high-frequent EC training group. These findings are the first to show that non-emotional training can induce changes in amygdala reactivity to aversive information and alter amygdala-prefrontal connectivity.