Reconfiguration of brain networks supporting inhibition of emotional challenge

Morgan E. Bartholomew, Cindy M. Yee, Wendy Heller, Gregory A. Miller, Jeffrey M. Spielberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Reacting to the salient emotional features of a stimulus is adaptive unless the information is irrelevant or interferes with goal-directed behavior. The ability to ignore salient but otherwise extraneous information involves restructuring of brain networks and is a key impairment in several psychological disorders. Despite the importance of understanding inhibitory control of emotional response, the associated brain network mechanisms remain unknown. Utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data obtained from 103 participants performing an emotion-word Stroop (EWS) task, the present study applied graph-theory analysis to identify how brain regions subserving emotion processing and cognitive control are integrated within the global brain network to promote more specialized and efficient processing during successful inhibition of response to emotional distractors. The present study identified two sub-networks associated with emotion inhibition, one involving hyper-connectivity to prefrontal cortex and one involving hyper-connectivity to thalamus. Brain regions typically associated with identifying emotion salience were more densely connected with the thalamic hub, consistent with thalamic amplification of prefrontal cortex control of these regions. Additionally, stimuli high in emotional arousal prompted restructuring of the global network to increase clustered processing and overall communication efficiency. These results provide evidence that inhibition of emotion relies on interactions between cognitive control and emotion salience sub-networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Connectivity
  • Emotion
  • Graph theory
  • Inhibitory control
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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