The processing of negative information and its often deleterious impact on behavior has been extensively investigated. Importantly, how the brain processes negative information is thought to be centrally linked to the psychopathologies of depression and the anxiety disorders. The processing of positive information, say as manipulated via reward, also has been extensively studied. In this case, how the brain processes positive information is thought to be centrally linked to drug abuse and addiction. Although a lot is known about the systems involved in processing negative and positive information, we are only starting to make progress in understanding how they simultaneously act in the brain and thus influence normal and clinically relevant behaviors. Filling this gap is important because in many real-world situations both negative and positive systems simultaneously contribute to behaviors. From a clinical standpoint, for example, in depression both systems likely play important roles. The objective of the present application is to advance our understanding of the interactions between negative and positive information processing in the brain and their impact on behavior. Critical questions that will be investigated include: do negative and positive systems interact always antagonistically as often assumed following classical theories of opponent processing? Under what conditions, if any, do they interact synergistically? What is the role of context, say as determined by which information is task relevant, in shaping the interactions between negative and positive systems? Across two aims, we will test whether the interactions between negative and positive processing are antagonistic vs. cooperative.
Aim 1 will investigate interactions between negative and positive processing when aversive information is punctual (e.g., an aversive image or a CS+ stimulus presented at a specific point in time). Both the impact of negative information on reward processing and the impact of reward on the processing of aversive stimuli will be investigated.
Aim 2 will investigate the interactions between negative and positive processing when aversive information is state like (e.g., aversive events linked to prolonged situations in which aversive events may occur; say, tens of seconds to minutes). Collectively, we expect to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the interactions between negative and positive processing in the brain, and make important new contributions to cognitive/affective neuroscience that have the potential to be of clinical relevance.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this proposal is to advance our understanding of how negative emotion and motivational processing interact in the human brain and their impact on behavior. We employ a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that investigate this interaction during a variety of cognitive tasks.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Mechanisms of Sensory, Perceptual, and Cognitive Processes Study Section (SPC)
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Simmons, Janine M
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University of Maryland College Park
Schools of Arts and Sciences
College Park
United States
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Padmala, Srikanth; Sambuco, Nicola; Codispoti, Maurizio et al. (2018) Attentional capture by simultaneous pleasant and unpleasant emotional distractors. Emotion 18:1189-1194
Liu, Chihuang; JaJa, Joseph; Pessoa, Luiz (2018) LEICA: Laplacian eigenmaps for group ICA decomposition of fMRI data. Neuroimage 169:363-373
Meyer, Christian; Padmala, Srikanth; Pessoa, Luiz (2018) Dynamic Threat Processing. J Cogn Neurosci :1-21
Venkatesh, Manasij; Jaja, Joseph; Pessoa, Luiz (2018) Brain dynamics and temporal trajectories during task and naturalistic processing. Neuroimage 186:410-423
Pessoa, Luiz (2018) Embracing integration and complexity: placing emotion within a science of brain and behaviour. Cogn Emot :1-6
Gentry, Ronny N; Roesch, Matthew R (2018) Neural Activity in Ventral Medial Prefrontal Cortex Is Modulated More Before Approach Than Avoidance During Reinforced and Extinction Trial Blocks. J Neurosci 38:4584-4597
Pessoa, Luiz (2018) Understanding emotion with brain networks. Curr Opin Behav Sci 19:19-25
Pessoa, Luiz (2017) A Network Model of the Emotional Brain. Trends Cogn Sci 21:357-371
Pessoa, Luiz (2017) Do Intelligent Robots Need Emotion? Trends Cogn Sci 21:817-819
Padmala, Srikanth; Sirbu, Mihai; Pessoa, Luiz (2017) Potential reward reduces the adverse impact of negative distractor stimuli. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 12:1402-1413

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