What impact does an angry context have upon us? The effect of anger on functional connectivity of the right insula and superior temporal gyri

Viridiana Mazzola, Giampiero Arciero, Leonardo Fazio, Tiziana Lanciano, Barbara Gelao, Teresa Popolizio, Patrik Vuilleumier, Guido Bondolfi, Alessandro Bertolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Being in a social world requires an understanding of other people that is co-determined in its meaning by the situation at hand. Therefore, we investigated the underlying neural activation occurring when we encounter someone acting in angry or joyful situation. We hypothesized a dynamic interplay between the right insula, both involved in mapping visceral states associated with emotional experiences and autonomic control, and the bilateral superior temporal gyri (STG), part of the “social brain”, when facing angry vs. joyful situations. Twenty participants underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning session while watching video clips of actors grasping objects in joyful and angry situations. The analyses of functional connectivity, psychophysiological interaction (PPI) and dynamic causal modeling (DCM), all revealed changes in functional connectivity associated with the angry situation. Indeed, the DCM model showed that the modulatory effect of anger increased the ipsilateral forward connection from the right insula to the right STG, while it suppressed the contralateral one. Our findings reveal a critical role played by the right insula when we are engaged in angry situations. In addition, they suggest that facing angry people modulates the effective connectivity between these two nodes associated, respectively, with autonomic responses and bodily movements and human-agent motion recognition. Taken together, these results add knowledge to the current understanding of hierarchical brain network for social cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume10
Issue numberJUN
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 6 2016

Keywords

  • Anger
  • Dynamic causal modeling
  • Right insula
  • Social affective engagement
  • Superior temporal gyri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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