Uncontrolled anger may lead to aggression and is common in various clinical conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder. Emotion regulation strategies may vary with some more adaptive and efficient than others in reducing angry feelings. However, such feelings tend to linger after anger provocation, extending the challenge of coping with anger beyond provocation. Task-independent resting-state (rs) fMRI may be a particularly useful paradigm to reveal neural processes of spontaneous recovery from a preceding negative emotional experience. We aimed to trace the carryover effects of anger on endogenous neural dynamics by applying a data-driven examination of changes in functional connectivity (FC) during rs-fMRI between before and after an interpersonal anger induction (N = 44 men). Anger was induced based on unfair monetary offers in a previously validated decision-making task. We calculated a common measure of global FC (gFC) which captures the level of FC between each region and all other regions in the brain, and examined which brain regions manifested changes in this measure following anger. We next examined the changes in all functional connections of each individuated brain region with all other brain regions to reveal which connections underlie the differences found in the gFC analysis of the previous step. We subsequently examined the relation of the identified neural modulations in the aftermath of anger with state- and trait- like measures associated with anger, including brain structure, and in a subsample of designated infantry soldiers (N = 21), with levels of traumatic stress symptoms (TSS) measured 1 year later following combat-training. The analysis pipeline revealed an increase in right amygdala gFC in the aftermath of anger and specifically with the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG).We found that the increase in FC between the right amygdala and right IFG following anger was positively associated with smaller right IFG volume, higher trait-anger level and among soldiers with more TSS. Moreover, higher levels of right amygdala gFC at baseline predicted less reported anger during the subsequent anger provocation. The results suggest that increased amygdala-IFG connectivity following anger is associated with maladaptive recovery, and relates to long-term development of stress symptomatology in a subsample of soldiers.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Gilam, Maron-Katz, Kliper, Lin, Fruchter, Shamir and Hendler.