Activity in medial prefrontal cortex during cognitive evaluation of threatening stimuli as a function of personality style

Brain Research Bulletin 74 (2007) 250–257

Valeria Rubinoa, Giuseppe Blasia, Valeria Latorrea, Leonardo Fazioa, Immacolata d’Erricob, Viridiana Mazzolab, Grazia Caforioa, Marcello Nardinia, Teresa Popolizioc, Ahmad Haririd, Giampiero Arcierob, Alessandro Bertolinoa,c
aPsychiatric Neuroscience Group, Section on Mental Disorders, Department of Psychiatric and Neurological Sciences, University of Bari, Bari, Italy
bIstituto di Psicoterapia Postrazionalista, Rome, Italy
cDepartment of Neuroradiology, IRCCSS “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”, San Giovanni Rotondo (FG), Italy
dDevelopmental Imaging Genomics Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, USA

Abstract

Cognitive evaluation of emotional stimuli involves a network of brain regions including the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).However, threatening stimuli may be perceived with differential salience in different individuals. The goal of our study was to evaluate how different personality styles are associated with differential modulation of brain activity during explicit recognition of fearful and angry facial expressions. Twenty-eight healthy subjects underwent fMRI. Based on a cognitivist model, subjects were categorized according to how they attribute salience to emotional stimuli and how they regulate their emotional activation. We compared 14 phobic prone (PP) subjects, whose identity is more centered on the inner experience (“inward”) and around control of environmental threat, and 14 eating disorders prone (EDP) subjects, whose identity is more centered on external referential contexts (“outward”) and much less around control of threatening stimuli. During fMRI subjects either matched the identity of one of two angry and fearful faces to that of a simultaneously presented target face or identified the expression of a target face by choosing one of two simultaneously presented linguistic labels. The fMRI results indicated that PP subjects had greater mPFC activation when compared with EDP subjects during cognitive labeling of threatening stimuli. Activity in the mPFC also correlated with personality style scores.

These results demonstrate that PP subjects recruit greater neuronal resources in mPFC whose activity is associated with cognitive aspects that are closely intertwined with emotional processing. These findings are consistent with the contention that cognitive evaluation and salience of emotional stimuli are associated with different personality styles.
Keywords: Emotion recognition; Fear; Prefrontal cortex; fMRI; Personality

Available online 19 July 2007. Link

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Recensione di Sulle tracce di sè [V. Mazzola]

Giampiero Arciero
Sulle tracce di sè
2006 Bollati Boringhieri

Recensione di Viridiana Mazzola

Una domanda ricorre silenziosa ed attraversa i saggi che compongono questo libro, una domanda antica e mai esaurita: come comprendersi e comprendere l’altro?
Come cercare di dare un senso agli atteggiamenti, ai comportamenti, ai modi di essere delle persone con cui si condivide la propria vita ed a se stessi?
In effetti, come sottolinea l’Autore, inquadrare la persona che si ha di fronte è un’attitudine coltivata dagli esseri umani sin dagli albori della civiltà; la tendenza cioè a chiudere l’altro in un ritratto. Dorian Gray!
“Una sorta di fascinazione data dalla possibilità di possedersi e di possedere l’altro facendone un ritratto: un segno zodiacale, una categoria, un tipo”.

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Recensione di Sulle tracce di sè [M.Alessandrelli]

Giampiero Arciero
Sulle tracce di sè
2006 Bollati Boringhieri, Torino

Recensione di Michele Alessandrelli

(Dipartimento Filosofia Antica, Università “La Sapienza” Roma)

Questo libro avvincente rappresenta forse il punto più alto dell’attività scientifica e terapeutica di Giampiero Arciero, cofondatore insieme a Vittorio Guidano dell’IPRA, (Istituto di psicoterapia post-razionalista) e suo attuale direttore. Nell’immagine delle tracce, che il titolo suggestivamente evoca, si raccoglie il cuore dell’originale e colta riflessione sull’identità personale avviata da Arciero molti anni fa, riflessione che ha trovato la sua prima importante articolazione nel libro Studi e dialoghi sull’identità personale (Boringhieri 2002) del quale il presente volume intende essere il seguito e il naturale sviluppo.

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Variation of human amygdala response during threatening stimuli as a function of 5HTTLPR genotype and personality style

Biol. Psychiatry (2005) vol.57 (12): pp. 1517-1525

Alessandro Bertolino, MD, PhD 1,3,4, Giampiero Arciero, MD 2, Valeria Rubino MD 1, Valeria Latorre MD 1, Mariapia De Candia, PhD 1, Viridiana Mazzola, PhD 2, Giuseppe Blasi, MD 1,3, Grazia Caforio, MD 1, Ahmad Hariri, PhD 5, Bhaskar Kolachana, PhD 3, Marcello Nardini, MD 1, Daniel R Weinberger, MD 3, Tommaso Scarabino, MD 4

1Psychiatric Neuroscience Group, Section on Mental Disorders,Department of Psychiatric and Neurological Sciences, University of Bari, Bari, Italy;
2 Istituto di Psicoterapia Postrazionalista, Rome, Italy;
3 Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda (MD), USA;
4 Department of Neuroradiology, IRCCSS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza,San Giovanni Rotondo (FG), Italy;
5 Developmental Imaging Genomics Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, (USA)

Background
In the brain, processing of fearful stimuli engages the amygdala, and the variability of its activity is associated with genetic factors as well as with emotional salience. The objective of this study was to explore the relevance of personality style for variability of amygdala response.
Methods
We studied two groups (n = 14 in each group) of healthy subjects categorized by contrasting cognitive styles with which they attribute salience to fearful stimuli: so-called phobic prone subjects who exaggerate potential environmental threat versus so-called eating disorders prone subjects who tend to be much less centered around fear. The two groups underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3T during performance of a perceptual task of threatening stimuli and they were also matched for the genotype of the 5′ variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in the serotonin transporter.
Results
The fMRI results indicated that phobic prone subjects selectively recruit the amygdala to a larger extent than eating disorders prone subjects. Activity in the amygdala was also independently predicted by personality style and genotype of the serotonin transporter. Moreover, brain activity during a working memory task did not differentiate the two groups.
Conclusions
The results of the present study suggest that aspects of personality style are rooted in biological responses of the fear circuitry associated with processing of environmental information.

Orizzonti del corpo in psicopatologia

Michele Bracco

Philosophema, n. 3-5, Dicembre 2004

a Umberto Galimberti
Magister absconditus

L’avvento della psicoanalisi e della fenomenologia impongono alla psicopatologia di fine Ottocento una svolta epocale che la porta a superare quel riduzionismo scientifico tipico della cultura positivistica allora dominante. Sulla scorta delle riflessioni maturate in campo storico-filosofico ad opera di Wilhelm Dilthey, che aveva distinto le scienze della natura dalle scienze dello spirito, la psicopatologia, fino ad allora caratterizzata da un approccio prevalentemente organicistico per via del suo stretto legame con la psichiatria, dischiude nuove vedute che ne avrebbero salutato, da quel momento in poi, una nuova stagione feconda di innovazioni, di scoperte e, nella fattispecie, un modo nuovo di pensare il corpo e la corporeità.

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