The impact of self-control training on neural responses following anger provocation

Joanne R. Beames*, Gadi Gilam, Timothy P. Schofield, Mark M. Schira, Thomas F. Denson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Self-control training (SCT) is one way to enhance self-controlled behavior. We conducted a novel and exploratory functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment to examine how SCT affects neural responses in a situation that elicits a self-control response: anger provocation. Forty-five healthy young men and women completed two-weeks of SCT or a behavioral monitoring task and were then insulted during scanning. We found significant changes in functional activation and connectivity using a lenient error threshold, which were not observed using a stricter threshold. Activation in the posterior insula was greater for the control compared to the SCT group at post-provocation, trait aggression correlated with neural responses to SCT, and SCT was associated with specific amygdala-cortical connections. Neural changes occurred even though SCT did not affect participants’ performance on an inhibition task, reports of trying to control their anger, or their experience of anger. This dissociation prevented clear interpretation about whether the neural changes were indicative of specific anger or anger control processes. Although replication with high-powered studies is needed, we provide evidence that SCT affects neural responses in the context of anger provocation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)558-570
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Self-control training
  • anger
  • dorsal anterior cingulate
  • fMRI
  • posterior insula


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