The Role of the Subgenual Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Amygdala in Environmental Sensitivity to Infant Crying

Mutschler, Isabella and Ball, Tonio and Kirmse, Ursula and Wieckhorst, Birgit and Pluess, Michael and Klarhöfer, Markus and Meyer, Andrea H. and Wilhelm, Frank H. and Seifritz, Erich. (2016) The Role of the Subgenual Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Amygdala in Environmental Sensitivity to Infant Crying. PLoS One, 11 (8). e0161181.

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Newborns and infants communicate their needs and physiological states through crying and emotional facial expressions. Little is known about individual differences in responding to infant crying. Several theories suggest that people vary in their environmental sensitivity with some responding generally more and some generally less to environmental stimuli. Such differences in environmental sensitivity have been associated with personality traits, including neuroticism. This study investigated whether neuroticism impacts neuronal, physiological, and emotional responses to infant crying by investigating blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a large sample of healthy women (N = 102) with simultaneous skin conductance recordings. Participants were repeatedly exposed to a video clip that showed crying infants and emotional responses (valence, arousal, and irritation) were assessed after every video clip presentation. Increased BOLD signal during the perception of crying infants was found in brain regions that are associated with emotional responding, the amygdala and anterior insula. Significant BOLD signal decrements (i.e., habituation) were found in the fusiform gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, Broca's homologue on the right hemisphere, (laterobasal) amygdala, and hippocampus. Individuals with high neuroticism showed stronger activation in the amygdala and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) when exposed to infant crying compared to individuals with low neuroticism. In contrast to our prediction we found no evidence that neuroticism impacts fMRI-based measures of habituation. Individuals with high neuroticism showed elevated skin conductance responses, experienced more irritation, and perceived infant crying as more unpleasant. The results support the hypothesis that individuals high in neuroticism are more emotionally responsive, experience more negative emotions, and may show enhanced cognitive control during the exposure to infant distress, which may impact infant-directed behavior.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology
07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Klinische Psychologie und Neurowissenschaften > Klinische Psychologie und Epidemiologie (Lieb)
UniBasel Contributors:Meyer, Andrea Hans
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Public Library Science
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:25 Oct 2018 09:07
Deposited On:27 Oct 2017 12:15

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