The neurodynamics of affect in the laboratory predicts persistence of real-world emotional responses

Aaron S. Heller, Andrew S. Fox, Erik K. Wing, Kaitlyn M. McQuisition, Nathan J. Vack, Richard J. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Failure to sustain positive affect over time is a hallmark of depression and other psychopathologies, but the mechanisms supporting the ability to sustain positive emotional responses are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the neural correlates associated with the persistence of positive affect in the real world by conducting two experiments in humans: an fMRI task of reward responses and an experience-sampling task measuring emotional responses to a reward obtained in the field. The magnitude of DLPFC engagement to rewards administered in the laboratory predicted reactivity of real-world positive emotion following a reward administered in the field. Sustained ventral striatum engagement in the laboratory positively predicted the duration of real-world positive emotional responses. These results suggest that common pathways are associated with the unfolding of neural processes over seconds and with the dynamics of emotions experienced over minutes. Examining such dynamics may facilitate a better understanding of the brain-behavior associations underlying emotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10503-10509
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 22 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Emotion
  • PFC
  • Positive emotion
  • Temporal dynamics
  • Ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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