An early family environment marked by harsh parenting has been related to risk for multiple mental disorders in adulthood, risks that may be mediated, in part, by deficits in emotion regulation skills. This study examined neural mechanisms underlying these consequences of “risky” families (RF) by exploring neural activity to tasks involving responses to emotional stimuli.
Participants completed an assessment of RF and participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigation that examined 1) amygdala reactivity to observation of fearful/angry faces; 2) amygdala and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC) reactivity to labeling emotions displayed in these faces; and 3) the relation between RVLPFC and amygdala activity during the labeling task.
Offspring from nonrisky families showed expected amygdala reactivity to observing fearful/angry faces and expected activation of RVLPFC while labeling the emotions, which was significantly negatively correlated (−.44) with amygdala activation. Offspring from risky families showed little amygdala activation during the observation task and a strong positive correlation (+.66) between RVLPFC and amygdala activation in the labeling task, suggesting a possible dysregulation in the neural systems involved in responses to emotional stimuli.
Offspring from risky families exhibit atypical responses to emotional stimuli that are evident at the neural level.
To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
Purchase one-time access:Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
One-time access price info
- For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
- For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'
Subscribe:Subscribe to Biological Psychiatry
Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
Already an online subscriber? Sign in
Register: Create an account
Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect
- Are avoidance and numbing distinct PTSD symptom clusters?.J Trauma Stress. 2004; 17: 467-475
- Maternal resources, parenting practices, and child competence in rural, single-parent African-American families.Child Dev. 1998; 69: 803-816
- Recognition and posing of emotional expression by abused children and their mothers.Dev Psychol. 1988; 24: 776-781
- The development of anxiety.Psychol Bull. 1998; 124: 3-21
- The role of the amygdala and its efferent projections in fear and anxiety.in: Tyrer P. Psychopharmacology of Anxiety. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom1989: 52-79
- The family ecology of boys’ peer relations in middle childhood.Child Dev. 1990; 61: 874-891
- Affect expression in the family, children’s understanding of emotions, and their interactions with others.Merrill Palmer Q. 1994; 40: 120-137
- Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion.Science. 2003; 302: 290-292
- Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults.Am J Prev Med. 1998; 14: 245-258
- Social economics of childhood glucocorticoid stress responses and health.Am J Phys Anthropol. 1997; 102: 33-53
- Modulating emotional responses.Neuroreport. 2000; 11: 43-48
- The amygdala response to emotional stimuli.Neuroimage. 2002; 17: 317-323
- Personality disorders, coping strategies, and posttraumatic stress disorder in women with histories of childhood sexual abuse.J Child Sex Abus. 2003; 12: 19-39
- Effects of family environment on adolescent substance use, delinquency, and coping styles.Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1991; 17: 71-88
- The fusiform face area.J Neurosci. 1997; 17: 4302-4311
- The Emotional Brain. Simon & Schuster, New York1996
- Emotion.in: Mountcastle V. Plum F. Geiger S.R. Handbook of Physiology. vol. 5. American Physiological Association, Bethesda, MD1987: 419-455 (Section 1: The Nervous System)
- Relation of childhood socioeconomic status and family environment to adult metabolic functioning in the CARDIA study.Psychosom Med. 2005; 67: 846-854
- An fMRI investigation of race-related amygdala activity in African-American and Caucasian-American individuals.Nat Neurosci. 2005; 8: 720-722
- The neural correlates of placebo effects.Neuroimage. 2004; 22: 447-455
- The impact of childhood living conditions on illness and mortality in adulthood.Soc Sci Med. 1993; 36: 1047-1052
- Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators.N Engl J Med. 1998; 338: 171-179
- Mothers’ and sons’ cognitive and emotional reactions to simulated marital and family conflict.J Consult Clin Psychol. 1991; 59: 692-703
- Rethinking feelings.J Cogn Neurosci. 2002; 14: 1215-1229
- For better or for worse.NeuroImage. 2004; 23: 483-499
- Marital discord and child behavior problems.J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1990; 18: 105-117
- Risky families.Psychol Bull. 2002; 128: 330-366
- Changes in brain activity related to eating chocolate.Brain. 2001; 124: 1720-1733
- Early environment, emotions, responses to stress, and health.J Pers. 2004; 72: 1365-1393
- Social support, appraisals of event controllability, and coping.J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994; 66: 1094-1102
- Adult health status of women with histories of childhood abuse and neglect.Am J Med. 1999; 107: 332-339
- Fear, vigilance, and ambiguity.Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 1999; 7: 177-188
- Masked presentations of emotional facial expressions modulate amygdala activity without explicit knowledge.J Neurosci. 1998; 18: 411-418
Published online: February 06, 2006
Accepted: September 29, 2005
Received in revised form: September 19, 2005
Received: July 18, 2005
© 2006 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.