Amygdala-prefrontal coupling underlies individual differences in emotion regulation

Hyejeen Lee, Aaron S. Heller, Carien M. van Reekum, Brady Nelson, Richard J. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Despite growing evidence on the neural bases of emotion regulation, little is known about the mechanisms underlying individual differences in cognitive regulation of negative emotion, and few studies have used objective measures to quantify regulatory success. Using a trait-like psychophysiological measure of emotion regulation, corrugator electromyography, we obtained an objective index of the ability to cognitively reappraise negative emotion in 56 healthy men (Session 1), who returned 1.3. years later to perform the same regulation task using fMRI (Session 2). Results indicated that the corrugator measure of regulatory skill predicted amygdala-prefrontal functional connectivity. Individuals with greater ability to down-regulate negative emotion as indexed by corrugator at Session 1 showed not only greater amygdala attenuation but also greater inverse connectivity between the amygdala and several sectors of the prefrontal cortex while down-regulating negative emotion at Session 2. Our results demonstrate that individual differences in emotion regulation are stable over time and underscore the important role of amygdala-prefrontal coupling for successful regulation of negative emotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1581
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Corrugator electromyography
  • Emotion regulation
  • Functional connectivity
  • Individual differences
  • PFC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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