Cortical mechanisms involved in selective interactions of negative emotion with spatial and verbal working memory: An fMRI study

Author(s): Xuebing Li, Yue-Jia Luo, Zhihao Li, Xiaoping Hu

Background: Negative emotional state might selectivelymodulate spatial cognitive activities but not verbal cognitive activities, since both negative mood and spatial cognition are right hemisphere dominant. To test the hypothesis,we used functionalmagnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the influence of negative emotion on brain activities associated with spatial and verbal workingmemory (WM). Results:With a modified n-back task, fMRI data showed as compared with neutral emotion, negative emotion elicited increased activities in right insula, right medial frontal gyrus and right anterior cingulate. The contrast between spatialWMand verbalWM showed a right-sided dominance in the superior occipital gyrus for spatial WM, and a left-sided dominance in themiddle frontal cortex for verbalWM. Furthermore, ROI analysis suggested that the region relevant to spatial WM task was affected by negative emotion. The same emotion effect was not observed in the region relevant to verbal WM task. Conclusion: The main findings from this study indicate significant right hemisphere lateralization of negative emotion and a right-sided dominance in spatial WM,which suggests the neural resource competition on the same dominant hemisphere as the neural basis of the selective influence of negative emotion on spatial WM.

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