Anger provocation increases limbic and decreases medial prefrontal cortex connectivity with the left amygdala in reactive aggressive violent offenders

Nicolette Siep, Franca Tonnaer, Vincent van de Ven, Arnoud Arntz, Adrian Raine, Maaike Cima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Neurobiological models propose reactive aggression as a failure in emotion regulation, caused by an imbalance between prefrontal cortical control and excessive bottom-up signals of negative affect by limbic regions, including the amygdala. Therefore, we hypothesize a negative correlation between PFC and amygdala activity (pre/post resting-state scans) in violent offenders. In this study resting-state fMRI was administered before and after an emotion (anger and happiness) provocation or engagement task within 18 male violent offenders scoring high on reactive aggression, and 18 male non-offender controls. Research in emotional pre/post resting-state showed altered connectivity by task performance. Therefore, bilateral amygdala region of interest (ROI) whole brain functional connectivity analysis tested dynamic change differences between pre and post resting-state connectivity between groups. Self-reported anger showed a positive significant relationship with medial prefrontal cortex activity in the pre-task scan and significantly increased during the emotion task in both the violent and control group. Imaging results showed a significant decrease in amygdala - medial prefrontal functional connectivity in the violent offenders and an increase in the non-offender controls after the emotion task. The opposite pattern was found for amygdala connectivity with the (para) limbic regions: violent offenders showed increased connectivity and non-offender controls showed decreased connectivity. The present results indicate that reactive aggression might stem from a focus on emotion processing, as indicated by an increase in limbic functional connectivity. The combination of a focus on emotion, along with a lack of medial prefrontal cortex regulation, has the potential to grow out of control e.g. in reactive aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311–1323
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Volume13
Issue number5
Early online date25 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • Functional connectivity
  • Impulsive aggression
  • BEHAVIOR
  • FUNCTIONAL CONNECTIVITY
  • Emotion regulation
  • RESPONSES
  • POSITRON-EMISSION-TOMOGRAPHY
  • RUMINATION
  • EMOTION REGULATION
  • Resting-state fMRI
  • NEURAL-NETWORK
  • PROACTIVE AGGRESSION
  • BRAIN
  • Amygdala seed
  • PARADIGM

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