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On the influence of emotion on conflict processing: Correlations with anxiety and depression


Kanske,  Philipp
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kanske, P. (2014). On the influence of emotion on conflict processing: Correlations with anxiety and depression. Talk presented at 2nd International Conference European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN). Dortmund, Germany. 2014-05-07 - 2014-05-10.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-3352-4
Tasks that elicit conflicting activations, for example between response tendencies, are an exquisite tool to probe cognitive control. They require the representation of task goals and the detection of conflict with this goal, as well as selection and commitment of resources according to the goal. If and how this system is modulated by emotion has been highly debated. Using two different conflict paradigms (Simon, Flanker) we show that emotion can speed up conflict processing, if the emotional stimuli are behaviorally relevant. This is true for positive and negative emotion alike and is mediated by a neural network involving the amygdala and the ventral and dorsal portions of the anterior cingulate cortex. Functional connectivity between these regions is increased for conflict in emotional trials, while amygdala and ventral anterior cingulate cortex are not activated during conflict in neutral stimuli. Critically, anxiety and depression yield reduced activation of this network and less behavioral benefit. Temperamental effortful control has the opposite effect. The data suggest that emotional saliency information and current task goals are integrated resulting in the additional recruitment of cognitive control resources to speed up conflict processing. Deficient emotional reactivity seems to hinder this process, which might be counteracted by enhanced control skills.